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Maize production rises by 1.7m bags

COUNTIES
By Wilberforce Netya | April 6th 2016

The introduction of lime-treated mavuno fertilisers has led to an increase in maize yields by 1.7 million bags.

Governor Patrick Khaemba said overuse of acidic fertilisers had exhausted the soil nutrients, leading to dwindling annual production yields, which forced him to engage soil experts to help restore soil fertility.

He added that maize production has been gradually increasing, with the county producing 5.4 million bags of dry maize in 2015 compared to 3.7 million bags in 2014.

"We realised that our soils had been much affected by acidic fertilisers and engaged experts to carry out soil tests and this enabled us to come up with the first-ever customised fertilisers blended to suit the soil needs of the region," he said.

He added that his administration subsidised the customised farm input to make it more affordable to farmers. A 50kg bag of the planting mavuno fertiliser variety retails at Sh1,900 as the county government pays Sh1,350 for the farmer, while the top-dressing variety retails at Sh1,600.

Khaemba said the county government contracted Athi River Mining Company to manufacture the input and distribute it to the grassroots.

"Distributing the fertilisers to the ward level has also helped farmers reduce  the cost they would have paid to transport the same from a centralised place and this as well contributes in lowering the cost of production," he added.

He said stores would be equipped with modern mobile driers for farmers to dry their cereals to the required moisture content, adding that the stores would also be used in distribution of farm inputs especially during planting seasons.

Persistent calls by county leaders urging farmers to diversify and the provision of farm machinery like tractors, planters and tillers for hire at subsidised prices also contributed to better production.

Agriculture Chief Officer Mary Nzomo said several groups of farmers had been trained in farm mechanisation to help improve production in this year's  season. "The agriculture sector has received a major boost with the county administration procuring farm machinery worth Sh22.5 million to be used by farmers at subsidised rates," she said.

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