BY LORRAINE ANYANGO
Kisumu county has made strides in cotton farming, realizing 100 percent of the targeted acreage in just six months after the re- introduction of high breed seeds.
About 600 tons of cotton is soon ready for harvesting, up way from only 50 tones that was being produced in the county.
The county received 12, tones of cotton conventional seeds, 140 kgs of biotechnology (BT) high breed seeds and 480 kgs of high breed cotton seeds after the government lightened the ban on GMO (BT) cotton seed.
The seeds were distributed through cotton corporative societies which are eight. They include Kobura farmers’ cooperative society , Seme Kisumu – farmers’ cooperative society which is the largest with about 180 members, other societies are Muhoroni, Nyakach,Nyando, Kisumu East , Kimira and Kano Kajulu farmers’ cooperative societies.
The cooperatives received the high-quality seeds that were rolled out by the National government for trials from Agricultural food authority (AFA) which has partnered with the Kisumu county government through its Agricultural Sector Development support program (ASDSP), Agricultural Information Initiative (SAII) and the county’s cooperatives directorate to improve cotton farming in the county.
The re-introduction of the high breed seed has directly contributed to the increased number of farmers who are currently 600 and have cultivated 2000 acres of crop now awaiting maximum yield.
In an on-going stock take on the progress of project activities among project value chain actors in the field, for visibility and value chain actors’ feedback, it’s evident that the BT seed is resistant to ball worm, a stubborn pest in cotton production.
The already secured market and the price for selling cotton has also become an attraction to farmers, Seme -Sub county alone has registered an additional 30 farmers this planting season who are waiting to harvest as well as join a sacco.
“From one acre of land, the maximum yield of cotton translates to about Ksh 130,000 after sale, which other crop can pay you better? its only cotton.” Kisumu County government (ASDSP) Coordinator Mr Isaac Dawo said.
The current average yield of cotton seed is 300 kgs per acre, potential maximum yield of the new cotton hybrid or Bt seed under rainfed production is 2000kgs per acre while the potential maximum yield of the new cotton hybrid of BT seed under irrigation is 2500kgs pe acre.
Therefore from an acre of land , a farmer can get up to Ksh 130,000 from the new seed at the current selling price of Ksh 52 per kg of cotton.
Mr Dawo painted a comparison to other crops like maize and millet which fetches only about 17,000 from an acre of land.
“In the past farmers would store their cotton for even a year due to lack of market, however in this dispensation as soon as they harvest, the crop is transported to Salawa ginnery, soon after the farmers receive payment.” Mr Dawo said adding that Kisumu county has no functional ginnery.
“Apart from distributing seeds, we have made pesticides available to cotton farmers, during this stock take exercise, we have carried 78 liters of pest control chemicals which we are giving farmers for free.” Mr Nixon Chebuche, from AFA said.
Kisumu county government, through its ASDSP has been largely involved with capacity building for cotton farmers, this financial year they have set aside 1.4 million to further train more farmers as their goal is to transform, livestock, and fisheries into commercial oriented enterprises for food security as well as nutrition.
ASDSP was started back in 2013 when conditions dint seem apt for cotton farmers as their selling price was as low as Ksh 42 and the seed available in the market for farmers was of poor quality leading to low yields. The programme was later devolved to county governments in 2017.
Through ASDSP partnerships, farmers from Kisumu county bench-marked in Baringo with the Rift valley Traders also known as Salawa ginnery, singing an agreement with then for the purchase of all their harvested cotton, hence securing ready market for cotton.
Mr Henry Dickson Odoyo a farmer registered with the Kobura cooperative society, cultivated on virgin land after he heard of new cotton seeds, he is both surprised and joyed with the yield that is turning out so promising.
During the stock take, the team comprising of the Kisumu County Director of Crops, and agricultural officer advised the farmers to learn more about their cooperative society levies and ensure they were active in the given societies’.
They encouraged the farmers to use herbicides to clear weed as its cost effective and ensure that they keep records to inform their decisions the next planting season as well as cut down further on cost of growing the crop.