Cotton growers offered free seeds
The government has started distributing cotton seeds to farmers in Western, Rift Valley, Nyanza and at the Coast in renewed efforts to revive the textile industry.
While the country has the potential to grow up to 260,000 bales of cotton lint annually, the sub-sector now produces only 10,000 against the domestic demand of 110,000.
The Ministry of Agriculture said it will distribute 16 metric tonnes of hybrid cotton seeds worth Sh64 million to more than 30,000 smallholder growers in Busia, Bungoma, Siaya, Kisumu, Homa Bay, Baringo, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Kilifi, Kwale, Tana River and Lamu counties
Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Anne Nyaga said the ministry is working closely with counties to identity farmers who will benefit from the non-Bt cotton seeds.
Currently, cotton is grown under 30,000 hectares compared to the potential of 400,000ha.
The ministry will also distribute one tonne of genetically modified cotton (Bt cotton) to over 700 farmers for demonstration ahead of commercialisation in October.
“We are setting up 720 demonstration plots of Bt cotton in the same counties where non-Bt hybrid seeds will be grown. These sites will be used for teaching farmers and extension service providers from all over the country,” the CAS explained.
Kenya’s textile exports enjoy quota and duty-free access to the US market under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa) in addition to other preferential treatment in EU and Comesa markets.
“Cotton can potentially be grown in 24 counties in arid and semi-arid areas. The cotton sub-sector has the potential to employ 1.5 million people,” Nyaga said.
Race to win Sh10.6m agribusiness prize starts
Generation Africa, an initiative that targets youth entrepreneurs in the agri-food sector, has launched its second annual Sh10.6 million ($100,000) prize competition.
The GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition, which is open to agri-food entrepreneurs aged 18-35 from across Africa, seeks to inspire and support the best business models from young Africans during the Covid-19 crisis.
Bringing on board leading co-founders, members and ambassadors, the competition, launched on April 14 amid the coronavirus pandemic, seeks to give hope to agripreneurs on the continent.
It also seeks to grow the pan-African GoGettaz entrepreneurial community, paving the way for new businesses embracing technology and innovation.
“We decided to go ahead with the 2020 GoGettaz Agripreneur Prize Competition despite the coronavirus crisis. Now, more than ever, we need to support small and medium African agri-food entrepreneurs on the continent. They are the people who produce food and get it to those who need it,” said Svein Tore Holsether, the President and CEO of Yara International.
The firm, together with telecommunication company Econet, co-sponsored the inaugural competition in 2019.
“Agri-food is more than an essential business during this global pandemic since it is urgent for survival,” said Strive Masiyiwa, the founder and Executive Chairman of Econet.
Winners will each get a grand prize of Sh5.3 million along with an industry-leading support network to take their businesses to the next level.
Save our animals from lightning, farmers plead
Livestock farmers in Ndhiwa, Homa Bay County, have called for installation of lightning arresters in grazing fields to protect their animals from death when it is raining.
Affected areas include Nyoniang’, Ong’ere and Nyamuare villages in Wachara sub-location, which are prone to lightning strikes. On Wednesday evening, lightning killed seven cattle belonging to Maurice Otuoma at Nyoniang’.
“The animals were grazing when suddenly they were struck by lightning. I had three cows, two bulls, and two calves, all of which died,” he said.
Similarly, Moses Odondo, a farmer in Ong’ere, said his neighbours have lost more than 15 cattle between December and March.
Wachara sub-location Assistant Chief Alloys Otieno said lighting is prevalent in the area during rainy seasons.
“Residents have lost several animals in the previous rainy seasons. It is a problem that can be solved by erecting lightning arresters,” he said.
AAK: We have pesticides to fight locusts
The country has adequate pesticides to fight locusts, the Agrochemicals Association of Kenya (AAK) has assured.
The association said it has concluded the process of identifying suitable pesticides for use, an issue that has been challenging in the past.
Fears had been rife that grounding of flights due to the coronavirus pandemic had greatly impacted on the country’s ability to import chemicals.
“As one of Africa’s largest agricultural exporters, we have cargo-only flights, most of which are still flying. These have traditionally arrived in Kenya nearly empty then left full. Thus, even with our total air cargo down to a tenth of its normal capacity, it offers more than 400 tonnes a week of incoming cargo capacity. This has allowed our industry to bring in far more than the 100 tonnes needed for the next round of spraying,” said Eric Kimungunyi, AAK’s CEO.
He said the industry has 200 tonnes of the recommended pesticides suitable for locust use.
The Pest Control Products Board (PCPB) last month announced a list of 64 insecticides suitable for use in locust fight noting all have met safety standards. PCPB has likewise emphasised the need to use wide-ranging insecticides to prevent any build-up of resistance by locusts to any one product.
“The Ministry of Agriculture is ready to deploy recommended locust insecticides. We may just need to make some bold decisions about choosing the right products from the list and starting the spraying of eggs and hoppers if we are to prevent new swarms,” said Kimungunyi.
The Food and Agriculture Organisation last month warned of an increase in the number of locusts in the region by June this year if spraying does not proceed.–
County offers farmers Sh4m inputs
Farmers in Nyeri have received inputs worth Sh4 million from the county government.
Governor Mutahi Kahiga offered the 2,000 dairy farmers milk gallons and acaricides to curb pests. Coffee farmers in Othaya also received 363 tonnes of manure, with each expected to get 130 kilos. “The aim is to ensure that farmers revitalise coffee farming by doubling production and enhancing its quality,” the governor said.
He further stated that they intend to ensure that farmers increase their production from the current 3kg per coffee tree to 20kg.
“Poor practices have seen soils in the county deteriorate, hence the need to boost the pH so that we can increase productivity,” Agriculture executive James Muturi said.
Dairy farmers, on the other hand, received 365 litres of acaricides worth Sh1.6 million, which were distributed to 22 cattle dips. Muturi said the aim is to reduce cases of tick-borne diseases.
“We are committed to rehabilitate all the viable cattle dips in the county to enhance control of vector-borne diseases,” said Kahiga.
Dairy farmers’ cooperatives also received 39 milk gallons for use in collecting and storing of