Western and Nyanza counties are set to benefit from soil testing campaigns to increase agricultural productivity.
Speaking on Tuesday at Mabanga Agricultural Training College (ATC) during the launch of the soil testing campaign, Bungoma County Agricultural Director Fredrick Wotia says the campaign aims at increasing agricultural productivity and crop production to ensure national food security.
“We aren’t here today just to launch the soil testing campaign; it is also a strategy to ensure that we attain our country’s national food security,” he said.
He said soil testing enables farmers to know their soil status and enables them to choose the type of crops to grow and at what time.
Wotia attributed persistently low crop harvesting in the region to the lack of soil testing among farmers, adding that a good number of farmers that received farm inputs from the county government have also received low yields.
“As a county, we have been providing farm inputs for our farmers, but because most of them do not know the soil status of their farms, they end up getting demoralising harvests,” he said.
Wotia maintains that the soil test campaign will be an eye-opener for the farmers to be sure of the type of seeds and crops to plant and when.
He pointed out that productive soils are key to achieving national food security.
He called on the farmers to come out in large numbers and bring soil samples for testing at the training institution, adding that the lab truck will also go around the county to test soils from the villages.
“This exercise is going to take three days in the seven counties of Nyanza and Western to give farmers an opportunity to test their soils,” he said.
He said the county has extension officers in the wards that are going around creating awareness about soil testing and ensuing procedures.
“Soil testing has a procedure, and our extension officers are moving around to educate our farmers,” he said.
Deputy Chief of Party for USAID Kenya Crops and Dairy Markets Systems Activity Judy Odongo said that the exercise that is geared towards increasing agricultural production in the regions has kicked off.
She argues that her organisation’s partnership with the county government’s department of agriculture is to promote the use of better soil management systems.
Odongo said that soils are an important item in crop production and should be catered for.
She said most parts of the Nyanza and Western soils are acidic and alkaline, hence not good for crop production, and that is the reason they have partnered with regional agrovets and counties to address the menace.
“We have many soil treatment techniques that can turn acidic soils into the most productive soils,” she said, adding that farmers are also being taught the techniques.
“This rapid soil testing exercise is going to turn around the story of low production and will see farmers get optimal benefits on their farms,” she said.
By Roseland Lumwamu