Tharaka Nithi farmers have been advised to plant crops that take a short period to mature and conserve the rain water for irrigation during a dry spell that is expected after the month of December.
The Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) has warned the residents that the prevailing short rains will come to a minimal towards the end of the month of December and hence the need to conserve the little rain water for better crop yields.
Speaking during a consultative meeting with the members of the press in Chuka town, ASDSP Value Chain Development Officer Obadiah Munene said the short rains started towards the end of October and in some parts especially the lower parts of Tharaka and therefore will be shorter than normal.
“The rains were enough to make the planted seeds germinate and so far the crops are doing well but the meteorological department predicted that the rain would be intense in November and reduce towards the end of December and hence our advice to farmers to plant early maturing crops,” Munene said.
Munene advised farmers to conserve every drop of the rainfall through digging trenches in their farms as directed by the agricultural officers so that the fertile soil is not washed away by the rains.
He asked the farmers to consider modern ways of fighting the weeds other than the traditional way of uprooting them because during the weeding season, labor is scarce hence delaying the growth of the crops and affecting the overall output of the crops.
“Currently, there was an outbreak of armyworms but so far they have been dealt with because they were detected early and farmers advised accordingly also the rains have been high and these have helped interfere with the developmental stages of the worms and other pests,” Munene said.
Munene added that the farmers should plant crops such as fodder grass for cattle that will be able to stand the dry spell expected in February. He urged farmers to do mulching and water conservation and those doing irrigation to conserve water so that it will be used in the dry season.
The ASDSP Tharaka Nithi County Program Coordinator Ms. Fides Kaburu disclosed that the program has been in the county for 10 years and has been promoting the dairy farming poultry keeping and banana farmers.
“We have been teaching our farmers in groups about the present technologies which can be used to increase the output of farming activities, entrepreneurship in farming, and market linkages,” she said.
“We also help the county coordinate farming activities and currently, we are helping the county in drafting an agriculture policy for Tharaka Nithi that will be used to guide farmers,” she added.
Kaburu said that the body has introduced new technologies that include two silage-making machines, two nurseries for bananas, modern chicken farming, and also a soil scanner to help the farmers know the type of fertilizers to use.
Kaburu also echoed the words of Munene and urged farmers to major in conserving water to help in farming.
She disclosed that the ASDSP is a capacity-building program and is in the second phase of its fifth year which has been extended by one year to December 2023. She said it is co-financed by the county government, the national government, and the Swedish International Development Agency.