Kenya’ s Ministry of Agriculture recently launched a program to help farmers to prevent crops from diseases invasion to improve food security and income.
The program, plant health clinic is expected to benefit many farmers in the country to fight diseases and double production.
“The plant health clinic helps farmers identify different diseases that affected various crops and curing mechanism,” said agricultural expert Steven Wafubwa.
The official noted that many farmers lack knowledge on various diseases affecting their plants and possible prevention and treatment. This leads to poor yields less or failed crop.
“We unveiled the plant health clinic to help farmers know how to keep their crops healthy after we discovered that most farmers cannot identify the various diseases affecting their crops and curing methods. We are teaching them how to handle diseases and cure crops,” said Wafubwa during the launching of the program in Trans-Nzoia County of northwest Kenya.
He disclosed that most common disease that affects maize is maize streak, a viral disease while other diseases are caused by lack of sufficient nutrients in the soils.
“Maize streak has no treatment and we have advised farmers to immediately uproot the affected crop or crop before the disease spreads,” he said.
He said that another viral disease is cassava mosaic which affects the cassava crop and need to be uprooted once it is discovered.
Citing land preparations as a major step towards achieving desired yields, the officials urged farmers to embrace dry land preparation in bid to kill micro-organism and weed in the soil to minimize occurrence of diseases and boost productivity.
Speaking to hundreds of farmers, Wafubwa said the plant health clinics will he held once a week and urged them to visit the facility and learn more on crop management and prevention of diseases.
“We urge the farmers to visit the plant health clinic every Thursday to learn more about crops and diseases affecting them, how to care for their farms and where to find seeds that are not infected and the type and amount of fertilizers to be applied on their farms,” he said.
The official encouraged farmers to practice inter-cropping to get maximum produce from their farming. Another expert Mary Bunyasi said inter-cropping is critical especially for small scale farmers arguing it attracted faster maturity and enrich the soil and boost income.
“There is a notion among farmers that inter-cropping only works in big farms but one can practice the methods in small parcel. It is profitable,” Bunyasa said.
She said that Intercropping helps farmers maximize the whole piece of land and therefore getting more profit and enough food from their crops as some of the crops mature faster than others therefore ensuring a frequent supply of food.
She added that Cassavas, sweet potatoes, finger millet, sorghum can be inter planted with other short seasoned crops such as groundnuts, soya peas, field peas, cow peas, carrots, spices, vegetables, among others.
She said a cassava farmer can produce 20 to 30 tubers from one and half acres piece of and earn to nearly 4,000 dollars.
The farmers are also taught on how to use farm leftovers, leaves and ashes, which helps in decomposition to make a compost pit and use the manure on the farms.
Ladies received knowledge on how to make fireless cooker to conserve fuel and check of emission of smoke.