County distributes macadamia seedlings to boost incomes
Kirinyaga County is distributing 50,000 macadamia seedlings to help farmers diversify their incomes.
Governor Anne Waiguru said macadamia plants are easier to grow and have low cost of production.
A macadamia tree can produce an average of 70 kilos of nuts per season, with a kilo going for Sh150.
The governor noted that macadamia farming was a lucrative business and directed agricultural officers to enhance extension services.
"We will provide farmers with technical assistance and inputs to see that they get good income by integrating macadamia and other crops," said Waiguru.
Since crops like coffee and macadamia have alternate cycles of harvest, Ms Waiguru said that farmers are all set to enjoy maximum land use and increased returns all year round.
The county government estimates Kirinyaga nut production potential at 13,000 metric tonnes, which it aims to achieve by distributing the free seedlings. A macadamia tree takes around four years to mature.
Report blames low use of lime to lack of policy and high costs
A new report has blamed lack of clear policy on fertiliser use and soil testing as well as high costs for slow adoption of best farm practices by small-scale farmers.
The report by Kenya Markets Trust paints a grim picture of soil acidicity across the country. The survey commissioned in 2015 covered Uasin-Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Bungoma and Kakamega counties, which are considered the country's food basket.
Michael Kamau, a farm input specialist at the Kenya Markets Trust, said most farmers don't do soil testing.
The study interviewed 518 farmers in the four devolved units in the North Rift and western regions. Only 55 per cent of the respondents said that they were knowledgeable about use of lime while 44 per cent knew something about soil testing.
A tonne of lime goes for between Sh7,000 and Sh8,000 and one needs two metric tonnes per acre, which points to high costs.
"Farmers who did not use lime recorded 6 to 10 90kg bags of maize per acre but with lime, the yields rise to 10 to 20 bags," said Kamau.
Uasin Gishu County director of agriculture Wilbur Mutai said the devolved unit was working to better the soils.
Trans Nzoia Agriculture executive Mary Nzomo said the devolved unit introduced specific fertilisers to lower soil acidity.