Sorghum farming has the capacity to pull smallholder farmers in Nakuru County out of poverty but the voracious quelea birds have discouraged many of them from planting the crop.
The Chairman of Smallholder Farmers in the County Bernard Ngige Mwenje advised all farmers to plant sorghum to minimize losses by spreading out the risks on a large area.
He said spraying the birds would affect the ecosystem since they also play a role in pollinating other crops and spreading fruit seeds, but, once they notice a farm of sorghum they all descend on it and clear the crop.
Addressing the press in Nakuru town, Mwenje said they are doing everything possible to unite the smallholder farmers, especially in Gilgil where the weather was extremely conducive for sorghum production.
He appealed to alcohol brewing companies to assist the smallholder farmers make money from the crop by coming to the ground and making legally binding contracts with them.
“We know changing an entire community’s mindset is not easy but we are willing to work with the companies so that our farmers can earn a living from sorghum,” Mwenje said.
However, he said controlling the birds was quite challenging saying they also like feeding on sunflower, which does well in the area.
“When we plant sunflower, we then start waking up very early in the morning, fill a wheelbarrow with stones which we use to throw at the birds while shouting at the top of our voices to keep them away,” he said.
By Veronica Bosibori