High acidity in soils killing agriculture sector
By Osinde Obare | November 16th 2019
Low crop yield in western Kenyan has been attributed to high acidity and nutrients depletion in soil according to a study conducted by Kenya Markets Trust (KMT).
The study, which was released yesterday at a farmers’ forum in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County, reveals that about 50 per cent of the smallholders in the region farm on soils with pH below 5.5.
Mr Michael Kamau, a soil care specialist at KMT, said the study was carried out in Uasin Gishu, Kakamega, Bungoma and Trans-Nzoia counties.
The research shows that many farmers in the region do not do soil testing or use of lime to reduce the high acidity levels.
Farmers’ failure to embrace technology was also attributed to low yield. KMT has recommended consistent information on soil testing, lime use and adoption of emerging technologies to address the issues facing farmers.
“The gap between farmers and service providers, the agency suggest can be bridged by the involvement of youth in agricultural sector,” Mr Kamau noted.
The study showed that most of the farmers hardly harvest one tonne per hectare, way below the potential of six tonnes.
In 2015, KMT initiated intervention to increase use of agricultural lime by smallholder farmers in a pilot in Kakamega, Vihiga and Uasin Gishu counties.
Kamau presented the report to Trans-Nzoia Governor Patrick Khaemba and assured of the trust’s commitment to seek partnership with agro-dealers willing to sell lime to farmers and advise them on usage.
According to agricultural experts, soil-testing and use of lime has improved maize production from 4.3 million bags to 6.5 million bags in Trans Nzoia.
Mr Khaemba said in 2014, they supplied subsidised lime and Mavuno fertiliser to farmers to help to bring down soil acidity.
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