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Farmers opt for dairy farming due to poor maize returns

NEWS
By Osinde Obare | March 8th 2016

TRANSNZOIA-KENYA: Poor prices and lack of markets is pushing several farmers in Trans-Nzoia County to diversify from maize farming to less involving farming activities such as dairy farming.

A spot check by the Standard found that some farmers have reduced their land for maize planting for the production of hay and grazing fields.

There has been less activity pertaining to land preparation for the planting season unlike in the past years.

Previously local farmers would prepare their farms as early as December before the planting exercise in March and April.

Some of the farmers have shifted to sugarcane farming, an activity they claim has better returns than maize farming.

One such farmer is former Cabinet Minister Noah Wekesa who has embarked on sugarcane and tree farming.

Wekesa laments that maize is no longer profitable and turned to sugarcane and tree farming which is more fetching.

"For years we have been frustrated by poor price and lack of market for maize. I turned my eyes to sugarcane and trees which are more profitable," Wekesa said.

Local farmers interviewed alleged that the government has abandoned them and fail to provide them with incentives.

"Though our farming activities are critical to ensuring the country is food secure we earn poor returns and some of us have been forced to shift to other farming activities," said Job Tallam.

He said maize farming has become uneconomical and more farmers are moving away to venture in different farming activities to improve their earning.

"Maize farmers have suffered in the hand of middlemen who exploit them and the government has kept a deaf ear. This is why some have shifted to dairy and sugarcane farming.

The revival of New Kenya Cooperative Creameries KCC has boasted dairy farming with farmers expanding their herds to earn from prompt payment.The availability of milk coolers by the government through KCC has attracted many maize farmers to join the venture.

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