Intensify extension services for increased food production, say experts

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Shem Odhiambo, a County Director of Export Trading Group (ETG)
Shem Odhiambo, a Director at Export Trading Group (ETG)

A refocus on extension services would pave way for Kenya being a food stable country, experts have said. They said the new move would also make Kenya regain its footing as one of Africa’s food basket and net exporter. Speaking during a farmers’ awareness campaign in Western region, Edwin Nyabiba, the Commercial Manager of Exporting Trade Group, an agricultural inputs multinational, said already Kenya was enjoying favourable weather and rich, arable soils. “Once our farmers are imparted with necessary technical skills on crop husbandry, Kenya would be on its way to being a (great) food exporter,” he said during a media briefing in Bungoma.

Mr Nyabiba said the awareness and training to farmers, particularly those in rural areas, offers crucial information to help them solve problems, increase farming efficiency, and enhance production. He said Export Trading Group (ETG) has set up different extension agents across the country to supplement what the ministry of agriculture was already offering. “ETG’s primary objective of extension is to change farmers’ outlook toward their difficulties,” he explained. He argued that the extension was not just meant to attain physical gains but also help farmers gain a clear insight into their challenges and the best way overcome them.

Besides feeding farmers with right information, Mr Nyabiba said the firm is also supplying them with quality and affordable inputs to support agricultural production. Among the crops that are set to benefit from the new variety of “crop-specific, soil-specific” fertilisers include sugarcane, maize, wheat, rice, among others. Referred to as Kynoch, Mr Nyabiba observed that the new sort of fertiliser is aimed at getting farmers out of the low production zone and empower them economically. 

In Mwea, he says the fertiliser has led to increased yields, with Kynoch-applied rice crops having strong stems that cushion them from weather vagaries. In a rice field of an acre, he says the traditional fertilisers such as DAP and CAN can help produce an average of between 20 and 25 bags as compared to Kynoch’s 45 to 50 bags. “KynoNafaka which is a planting fertiliser, for instance, is coated with Avail, a technology that reduces fixation of applied Phosphorus making it more available to plants even in low pH,” he added.