By Leonard Korir
Maize farmers in Keyian, Trans-Mara West District are counting losses due to rotting grains.
The more than 100 farmers under Keyian group ranch and other self help groups have encountered Sh20 million loss this season due to bad grain harvest.
The losses were as a result of delay by the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCBP) to open up their stores, among other factors.
Excess rains, use of bad seeds and lack of knowledge on the selection of the right fertiliser contributed to the rot.
The farmers also said Kenya Seed Company failed to make available the variety of seeds suitable for the area’s conditions. "When Kenya Seed failed to give us the variety we normally plant, 614 and 625, we resorted to 624 and 6210, which turned out to be non-resistant to rains and the area’s soil type," said Machoka Omosa, the Mashambani self-help group treasurer.
Mr Machoka said the farmers could lose more than 10,000 acres harvest, an equivalent of 45 per cent of their harvest; a figure he said might rise if rains persist.
Machoka said farmers had lost more than Sh4 million from 210 acres, an equivalent of more than 1,000 bags. He said poor transport network made it difficult for farmers to access markets.
"It is time the Government identified and recognised agriculturally potential areas and improved infrastructure in such places for easy access to markets," said Machoka.
Another farmer, Kiminisi Olengenda, said the Government should send them more extension officers and soil experts to educate farmers on modern farming techniques.
However, the farmers welcomed the intervention of Athi River’s Mining Mavuno Fertiliser to save them from further losses. Speaking to the farmers at the ranch, Mavuno Fertiliser Technical and Marketing manager Julius Nyabicha pledged to offer training to farmers on modern farming skills and capacity building.
Mr Nyabicha said a recent soil test indicated that the area had high level of acidity (5.2 per cent) and urged farmers to use fertilisers containing lime to avoid rotting of grains.
He said lack of post harvesting handling skills was also to blame.