Farmers Urged Not To Recycle Root And Tuber Seeds

Recycling of potato seeds is a limiting factor to better yields especially when climatic factors are not favourable to the crop.
According to experts, this might be because of the seed system in the root and tuber crops being underdeveloped at the time of harvesting
Local, international researchers and agriculture stakeholders attending a one-week conference in Kenya have noted that the majority of farmers in the country and region choose recycled seeds for farming resulting in reduced harvests and emerging diseases and pests.
Potato is the second most consumed crop after maize that is produced in 20 of Kenya’s 47 counties under varying socio-economic and climatic conditions.
Assistant Director, Crop Production and Seed System at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) Benjamin Kivuva said various root and tuber crops do not have sound seed systems thus making it hard for farmers to access clean planting varieties.
“Unlike in other sub-sectors like maize and beans where farmers’ access certified seeds, root and tuber crops seed production is at various stages, prompting farmers to recycle what they produce,” said Dr. Kivuva.
Kivuva observed that seed production in the root and tuber crops is largely undertaken informally and thus denies farmers an opportunity to tame emerging diseases and pests.
Director Crops Research at KALRO, Dr. Lusike Wasilwa said the country produced only four percent of certified seeds and now going to 5 percent
“We need to reach the 10 percent target and we can only do so by producing Irish potato certified seeds on farm, in small holder farmer groups”, she said adding that KALRO two years ago started training youth and farmers groups under the Kenya Climate Smart Programme in order to grow certified potato and close the gap.
We have 28 counties growing potatoes in Kenya and each should have a seed company to provide the seed, the scientists said noting that in one acre of land one needs 16 sacks of 50kg potatoes which is expensive just to move from one particular area thus the private sector should come in and roll out seeds to small holder farmers and the youth producing potatoes at the ground for the country to be sufficient.
“One bag of potato is going for Sh 3000 and we are encouraging farmers on the ground to become producers of seed as there is good money”, Dr. Lusike said
KALRO Potato Research Centre in Tigoni coordinates potato research throughout Kenya and its activities include breeding; agronomy; crop protection; post-harvest storage; food processing and socio-economics.
Dr. Moses Nyongesa, Institute Director at the KALRO Tigoni centre said that the country currently produces 1.3 million metric tonnes of potato and produces 10,000 metric tonnes of seeds.
“We have produced over 50 varieties with the most popular being Shangi, unica, Sherehekea, Kenya mpya including others while the Dutch have also introduced over 40 varieties,” he explained.
Esther Mashumba, a researcher with Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI), blamed low production to lack of commercialization of the certified seeds.
“In the region researchers in conjunction with governments have employed intensive efforts in terms of seed production. But the same lacks aggressive commercialization,” said Dr. Mashumba.
She added that there is high demand for root and tuber crops in developed markets, for instance, China and the United Kingdom.
Roots and tubers are the second most important food crops after cereals that have the potential to contribute significantly to the food security needs of the Kenyan people.
The government, two years ago developed the Root and Tuber strategy to provide a clear roadmap for sustainable growth and development of the root and tuber crops subsector.
The one-week 19th International Triennial Symposium of the International Society for Tropical Root Crops (ISTRC) that is ending today was organized by the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF).

Source: Kenya News Agency

Breakthrough For Coffee Farmers As Solidaridad Steps In

Coffee farmers in Trans Nzoia County are set to benefit from a climate change initiative dubbed ‘climate victims to climate heroes’ under the Solidaridad organization.
Speaking during the official launch of the programme in the county, Trans Nzoia County CEC member for Agriculture Phanice Khatundi acknowledged that the programme is in line with Governor George Natembea’s manifesto.
“As we all know, the country is facing a challenge of climate change with more than 23 counties across the country facing hunger due to climatic variations,” said Khatundi.
Khatundi being the CEC of the Kenyan bread basket county, stated that she is ready to join hands with relevant stakeholders who have plans to support such programs to make sure that the county does not become a victim of climate change.
The CEC said the county government is in agreement with the organization’s programme of assisting coffee farmers in Trans Nzoia County in combating climate change.
“I want to believe that we know and are aware of how important coffee is to the western world, in Kenya, we just take it casually but in the European world coffee is very precious and fetches very high prices, “said Khatundi.
She acknowledged the partnership of Solidaridad with the county government over the past two years in sensitizing coffee farmers on proper propagation of coffee seedlings that has since helped boost coffee production in Muroki and Kapretwa coffee cooperatives leading to the two organisations becoming among the best in the county.
The CEC Agriculture noted that her department has come up with an agricultural crop act that has set up rules and regulations to curb planting seedlings which don’t meet the requisite standards.
Solidaridad Regional Project coordinator Steven Kithuka said that the project is about building resilience within the farming systems that focuses on addressing issues on effects of climate change.
Mr. Kithuka said that within the coffee farming systems, they want to introduce agroforestry such as fruit trees like macadamia and avocado or timber trees such as quilveria and other trees that are compatible with coffee so as to diversify farming and boost incomes.
He said that the county risks hunger if the issue of climate change is not addressed properly.
“Trans Nzoia being a food basket for the country, we risk hunger and under production of agricultural commodities including coffee and other food crops if the issue of climate change is not addressed,” said Kithuka.
Mr. Kithuka applauded President Ruto’s initiative to plant 5 billion trees in the next 5 years adding that the Solidaridad project will plant 2 million trees to contribute to the forest cover.
The county Solidaridad Coordinator Mr. Paul Kamau said that coffee farming delivers important ecosystem benefits in the form of carbon storage.
“There are multiple benefits of agroforestry for farmers, business and the environment, first, the project will reduce carbon emissions through better soil management, fertilizer management and wastewater management. Secondly, the project will enable farmers to increase quality and consistency of their produce as a result of the increased resilience provided by climate smart farm practices,” explained Mr. Kamau.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Adopt Modern Livestock Production Techniques- Pastoralists AdvisedAdopt Modern Livestock Production Techniques- Pastoralists Advised

Tana River Pastoralists have been advised to change the way of livestock production to benefit from the live animal export trade through the Lamu port.
In October the Lamu Port had its first shipment of 200 head of cattle and 15,400 goats and sheep destined for Oman and according to the Kenya Ports Authority, Oman will be importing live livestock monthly.
Speaking in his office, Tana River County Director of Livestock Production, Nzioka Wambua, said time has come for livestock farmers to embrace modern ways of farming amid the ravaging drought in the county.
“We want to change the livestock production systems, let’s leave this proclivity of migrating with our cattle from one place to another. I encourage farmers to embrace livestock fattening. Live animals have started to be transported to gulf countries and they want a certain weight, if our cattle continue to breed the conventional way while migrating, they will not reach the weight required at the port,” said Wambua.
He also disclosed that the County Government was planning to renovate the Garsen slaughterhouse to be used for the value addition of meat products.
Meanwhile, Tana River which had been classified in the Alarm-worsening drought phase, has received light showers though not evenly distributed in all sub-counties.
“We have had a little rain in parts of Garsen,” said the County Director of Livestock adding: “At least we have had some rain, and goats and sheep have started to get fodder, their condition is not too bad, and they continue to recover. Also there is the regeneration of vegetation and water.”
He said at least 30 percent of the county had received rain noting however that the Kenya Meteorological department forecasts drought will continue. “We are working hard to make sure livestock do not die because of the drought,” Wambua assured.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Kericho Mother Seeks Help For Her Disabled Twin Daughters

Life has not been easy for 64-year-old mother of nine, living in abject poverty in Kaptele village in Bureti sub-county, Kericho.
She is appealing for help from well-wishers to support and care for her identical twin daughters who were born with cerebral palsy.
Speaking to KNA at her mud walled house, Ruth Koech, said she has lost all hope of seeing her 27-year- special needs children access medical services and education as she is not in a position to provide for their basic needs.
The elderly widow narrated that her daughters who look alike cannot walk unaided or attend to their basic grooming needs without help as they have abnormal muscle tone and posture and have episodes where they display aggressive behaviour.
“My identical twin daughters Chebet and Chepkoech were born on 18 September 1994. I have nine children and the twins are my seventh born. I love my special children and I am compelled to work from Monday to Friday for two hours picking tea from neighbours’ tea plantations where I make Sh150 which I use to buy foodstuffs. I am often forced to lock them inside a room with nothing inside because they have episodes of aggressive behaviour and if they come across anything they will fight and hurt themselves,” she divulged.
“I feed, bath, and cloth them. Even during their menses, I have to take care of this because they cannot manage alone. My other children are all doing menial jobs in Bomet and in Eldoret and when they come home, they seldom bring anything tangible because they too are struggling to make ends meet. My neighbours assist when they have any food stuffs and soap to spare,” said Koech.
Mama Koech knows too well that her twin daughters cerebral palsy has no cure, further revealing that she discovered the condition when they were two years old, noting, all her efforts to see them live with great autonomy and independence has been quite a challenge.
“I live with my daughters on my small parcel of land after selling off an acre in 2006 for Shs 120,000 for their medical needs at Tenwek Mission Hospital in Bomet County. At the time, they were eleven years old. I did not give up and in 2009, I took them to Kericho County Referral hospital from where I was referred to Nakuru Provincial General Hospital. I had enrolled them at Cherera special school in 2011 but they dropped out of school due to lack of school fees. All efforts to see them get modest medical services and education have been futile and I have left all to God,” she says, adding, her husband died in 2004 and she lives on a 0.05acres parcel of land.
The widow is now appealing for medical and financial assistance to enable her enroll the twins in a special school where they can learn personal independence and get assisted to develop social skills.
For assistance Mama Koech can be reached through phone number 0727 703477.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Kenya: 60,000 households in drought hit Garissa receive relief food

Kenya’s Mandera county government has distributed assorted food rations to some vulnerable 60000 households in the county.
Governor Mohamed Khalif said the distribution comes as a result of the ongoing drought in some parts of the country.
According to Rapid Assessment Conducted by Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), 500,000 people have been left in dire need of emergency relief food and water.
In the first phase of the relief food distribution over 750 metric tons of foodstuffs and 180,000 liters of cooking oil will be given to 60,000 vulnerable households and people living with disabilities across the county.
The county boss said the drought has had a huge impact on the people and therefore the food distribution countywide will cushion the community for a period of time.
He added that despite the prolonged drought, the county has scaled up response and mitigation measures to drought by drilling and equipping 75 additional boreholes that are strategically located across the county.
The identified households will benefit from the food assistance for the next three months.
The ongoing drought has affected most of the learning institutions in the far flung areas of Mandera county leaving learners miss classes over long periods because they have to travel long distances in search of food and water.

Source: Nam News Network

Governor To Hold Talks With Multinational Tea Companies

Bomet Governor Prof. Hillary Barchok has said he will not antagonize tea companies operating in the County over the mechanization of tea plucking.
Unlike his other counterpart governors within the Ekaterra and Finlay-owned tea belt zones who have dared the companies to vacate the county, Barchok said he would engage the companies in talks on the way forward.
Speaking at Kipsonoi in Sotik, Barchok said they have agreed with three multinational companies operating in Bomet on the formation of a committee to steer talks.
“I want to be clear on the raging debate over multinational companies, personally I will not antagonize them or ask them to leave since that will portray a bad image of our country and the Kenya Kwanza government on foreign investors,” he said.
Barchok said they have outlined issues among them increase of revenue remittance on land lease and Cooperate Social Responsibilities and employment of locals.
The Governor said there was a need to guard investor confidence.
“We should not in any way antagonize investors. Demands will always be there and we should approach issues soberly,” he said.
Barchok said he was foreseeing an agreement on some of the demands saying his administration was already hitting the ground running with talks.
“My intention is to see an increase in revenue so that we can get money to work on our development needs and there we should talk and that is my stand and that of my administration and I will advocate that across the region,” said Barchok.
Governor Barchok becomes the only leader in the South Rift region who has taken a soft stand on the Mechanization of tea plucking by multinational tea companies.
Since these companies resorted to mechanization, many cases of theft of green leaves have been on the rise.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Farmers Advised To Plant Fast Maturing Crops

The meteorological department in Narok County has advised farmers to prepare their farms to plant fast maturing crops as they predict suppressed rainfall in the months of November and December.
Narok County Meteorological Director Peter Lunanu said there will be light showers in the first week of November which is predicted to subside in the second week before re-emerging in the last week of November.
Lunanu said the rains will be poorly distributed this season advising farmers to plant fast maturing crops like beans, cabbage, potatoes and carrots that take only three months to mature.
“The rains will be on and off and could be poorly distributed in the whole county. Farmers should prepare their land early enough to plant fast maturing crops,” he said.
The director spoke during a media briefing at the agriculture offices in the presence of County Executive Member in Charge of Agriculture Joyce Keshe.
He noted that the southern part of Narok, which include Mara, Siana, Maji Moto and Narosura regions as well as Trans Mara regions will continue experiencing rains in the month of January.
Hence, the director advised residents to prepare to harvest water that they will use for farming and domestic use during the dry spell.
“Though we do not expect much rains like in other seasons, we ask the residents to harvest the rains that will fall as in most parts the rains will not continue in the month of January,” he said.
The government has distributed 400 bags of rice and 160 bags of beans to each of the eight sub counties in the county in a bid to mitigate effects of drought that is being felt in some parts.
Narok County Commissioner Isaac Masinde confirmed that about 115, 000 families and about 300, 000 school going children were in dire need of food in the county.

Source: Kenya News Agency

KMC Commended For Transforming Meat Sector

The Kenya Meat Commission (KMC) has been commended for ensuring that the meat sector delivers quality meat to the Kenyan citizenry and the export market.
Speaking at the Meat Training Institute (MTI) during the graduation ceremony of 57 KMC employees, MTI Principal, Salome Kairu said the institution’s vision was to train personnel from meat trade and industry in hygienic production, inspection and processing of meat and meat products.
“I want to single out the contribution of the Kenya Meat Commission over the years in the training of meat handlers and meat processors in Kenya and beyond. The collaboration in this endeavour has been a strong one,” Dr Kairu said.
“The purpose of the graduation ceremony was to mark the successful completion of the Slaughter House Attendants’ Pilot Course by staff of the Kenya Meat Commission,” said Dr Kairu.
She said KMC, whose motto is “Cut above the best’ had offered the opportunity for the institution to use its facilities for practical training purposes without reservations.
Dr Kairu said the successful training of 57 KMC staff on the slaughterhouse attendants’ course was a testimony of the strong collaboration and the commitment of the KMC administration to support the vision of the livestock sector.
“There is strong evidence of support of the livestock sector by the Kenya Meat Commission in other areas too. These include absorption of a good number of graduates and former staff of the Meat Training Institute, both young and older in the jobs available at the KMC who we believe is instrumental in further, in-house training of slaughter personnel,” she said.
She said the slaughterhouse attendants’ course was appropriate for KMC staff as it had provided them with the skills to participate in slaughterhouse operations like slaughtering cattle, sheep and goats.
“This is an animal welfare issue that is regarded with utmost importance globally, hygiene practices in the slaughterhouse, a food safety issue, knowledge on the value of slaughtering food animals hygienically,” said Kairu.
“Knowledge on the value of hygienic transportation of meat and knowledge on the value of slaughterhouse by-products like blood, manure, horns, bones and their proper handling,” she said.
On his part, KMC Managing Commissioner, Brigadier James Githaiga said the commission had crafted a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) with MTI based on Competence-Based Education and Training through targeted and scheduled training for development of KMC staff skills.
“Today graduands of the slaughter house attendant course stand out as the pilot course output of the KMC and MTI agreement,” Githaiga said during the graduation ceremony that was also attended by the graduands’ families.
He said the training was meant to impact necessary skills, which will create career growth, motivate staff and increase work efficiency, impact slaughtering skills of cattle and goats, build capacity for the trainees to effect hygienic processes and practices in the slaughterhouse.
“The training is also intended to enforce proper inspection, grading and processing of meat and meat products in line with KMC’s business mantra, ‘A Cut Above the Best!’, foster career growth, and contribute to reduction of the national meat post-harvest loss by proper hygienic handling,” said Githaiga.
He added that 14 percent of meat per animal was lost during slaughter time nationally.
“As we celebrate the fifty-seven (57) graduands, I want to thank you for balancing job performance, family and training at the same time. Congratulations and well done!,” Githaga said.
KMC was established on June 1, 1950 through an Act of Parliament, Cap 363 of the laws of Kenya. Ministerial responsibility of the KMC was transferred to the Ministry Of Defence from the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries through a directive by former President Uhuru Kenyatta dated September 7, 2020.
“To ensure full operationalisation, a turnaround strategy was laid down with requisite processes, policies and systems put in place. This included establishment of a robust KMC human resource policy/programmes and instruments through the guidance and expertise from the public service,” Githaiga said.
Githaiga said the activities were focused on organisation structure and staffing for KMC, human resource policies and procedures manual, career guidelines, staff remuneration, medical scheme, pension scheme, staff audit, placement of staff and training.
He said placement of staff brought about gaps in general processes hence the need for training to enhance career progression, efficiency and effectiveness in production where he thanked KMC’s Board of Commissioners for authorising the undertaking of the training.
“I thank the MTI management and fraternity for your commitment to offering the lessons out of your busy schedule and giving it at a discounted rate in terms of fees, I thank the KMC management and the families for supporting the staff during the entire training duration,” Githaga said.
He said KMC will collaborate with MTI in undertaking further upgrading and specialised courses for the graduands, and train other KMC staff and departments to ensure professionalism, effectiveness and efficiency in operations.

Source: Kenya News Agency

Kenya opens doors to GM maize

KENYA’S lifting of the ban on cultivating and importing genetically modified (GM) white maize is poised to enhance food security in the East African country.
The decision comes as the region faces its worst drought in decades.
It also comes weeks after a new administration assumed office in September after elections held the previous month.
“I don’t know much about Kenya’s new president, William Ruto, but I already like his approach to agriculture,” said economist Wandile Sihlobo.
He noted the decision by Ruto was apt, as the president is a scientist with a PhD.
His government made this change on GMO in response to growing food insecurity in Kenya.
“The country has struggled with drought in the recent past and remains a net importer of maize,” Sihlobo said.
He is an economist with the South African-based Agricultural Business Chamber (Agbiz).
Sihlobo noted there would be an assessment of each GM trait by the Kenyan Biosafety Authority before actual imports and cultivation can occur.
“Assuming some of this scientific legwork has already been done, we could see imports start in the next few months.”
Kenya needs to import a substantial volume of maize, estimated at about 700 000 tonnes.
In the 2021/2022 season several sub-Saharan African countries, including South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe had ample maize harvests, which enabled them to meet Kenya’s import needs.
However, harvests in some of these countries decreased in the current season.
South Africa the most abundant supply of maize at present, with maize exports for the 2022/2023 season forecast at 3,5 million tonnes.
South Africa has struggled to access the Kenyan market for years because of its ban on imports of GM products.
But Ruto’s move has changed all that, offering a new opportunity for South Africa,” Sihlobo said.
The adoption of GM crops is increasing globally.
In June, the Chinese National Crop Variety Approval Committee released two standards that clear the path for cultivating GM crops.
The European Union is also reviewing its regulations on cultivating and importing GM crops.
South Africa was an early adopter of GM technologies.
It began planting GM maize seeds in 2001/2002.

Source: CAJ News Agency

Farmers Urged To Adopt Climate-Smart Food Production Strategies

Farmers in Laikipia have been urged to adopt Climate Smart Agriculture technologies to avert famine due to perennial drought.
UN Women Laikipia County Coordinator Moses Muriithi who works with about 41 rural women’s self-help groups in Mukogodo East, Tigithi and Umande wards said their aim was to train them to improve their economic livelihoods and at the same time get food for their families.
“We have introduced climate-smart agriculture technologies that farmers can adopt, even in this time of drought, we are showing them how they can do their farming and have a higher chance of getting some production at the end,” Muriithi told KNA.
He was speaking at a function held to sensitize rural women on Climate Smart Agriculture technologies in Umande ward on Wednesday.
One of the Climate Smart Agriculture technologies that the women groups were urged to adopt was the planting of certified seeds that are drought resistant.
The women groups also practice chicken rearing, daily goat keeping, and dorper sheep among other activities.
The food value chains value addition projects are supported by UN Women, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and Korean International and Cooperation Agency (KOICA).
“UN Women’s target is to ensure that as women try to cope with the climate change situation, they have the skills to enable them to be more resilient by impacting them with skills we believe they will be able to improve their financial status through table banking and uplift each other,” said the UN Women county coordinator.
FAO officer, Agneta Makutwa said they trained rural women on how to breed chicken by using traditional methods like improved jiko dubbed Chebkube.
In May this year, KOICA Kenya Director Janghee Im told KNA that, apart from Laikipia, the Korean government had invested about $4.4 million to address to rights of women in the counties of West Pokot and Kitui by promoting climate-smart agriculture technologies.
Cereals Growers Association (CGA) Agribusiness Coordinator Daniel Njung’e said with three failed consecutive rainy seasons in Laikipia, they were working with farmers to promote a new variety of crops that are drought tolerant like beans, sorghum, and millet.
“This area is experiencing huge challenges, for three consecutive seasons we haven’t had any harvest due to climate change and so we are working with farmers to promote new varieties of seeds that are drought tolerant,” said Njung’e.
He further pointed out that farmers should diversify to other crops instead of relying on maize farming alone.
“Our main message to farmers is that they don’t have to dwell on maize that is not doing well in the area but they can at least plant other crops like beans and millet which have good market and high nutrition value. We are promoting conservation agriculture by conserving little moisture so that they can harvest at the end,” said Njung’e.
Ogilgel women’s group chairlady Agnes Cherotich, one of the Climate Smart Agriculture technology beneficiaries said they make chicken feeds, a challenge they noticed among the members when they started poultry farming this year.
“Chicken feed was a key challenge to members. We decided to make our own, we use soya, maize, sunflower and cotton,” she said, adding that in two weeks’ time, they are expecting to receive a feed mixing machine from UN Women.
Cherotich urged other women in Laikipia to embrace chicken farming since it’s easy and cheap to manage. The group which has a membership of 20 women owns at least 500 chickens. The group sells extra poultry feeds to other farmers in the area.

Source: Kenya News Agency