Embracing mechanized and commercial farming were the Key words emphasized by speakers during the farmers field day marked yesterday at Kano West Irrigation scheme in Kabonyo Kanyagwal ward, Kisumu County.
It was noted with concern that Kisumu County has not commercialized rice farming since they only do it for subsistence and that they have only stuck with the IR variety which has no demand in the market. This has been a setback from the competition from Tanzania and Pakistan’s rice which are of preferred varieties and affordable.
Farmers were advised to take up mechanized farming and innovative technologies that will reduce the production and milling cost, to enable them compete in the market.
The County Director for crops Mr Sylvester Oketch called on the farmers to practice market oriented production by producing varieties that are in demand in the market using the consortium approach in working with the stakeholders in the value chain
On his part Dr Omanga put the farmers to task to see to it that rice from Kisumu is produced to the right quality and quantities and that it is packed branded and sold to the local and international markets.
The area MCA Hon. Oiko Pete called upon the youths to engage in commercialized farming to boost their economic empowerment and livelihoods.
The Chairman agricultural committee in the County Assembly, Hon Vitalis Otura on his part said Kisumu has been producing 24 metric tons of rice and they want to scale it up to 30 metric tons by providing necessary support such as water supply and farm inputs to rice farmers.
The Ag Chief Officer for agriculture Mr. Alfred Ajulu said the department will put more money in farming with a purpose to manage water supply, introduce new varieties to be planted, extension services management, mechanization and pursuit of rice value chain. He also promised they would deal with challenges such as birds menace as a means of addressing food security for nutrition and commercial farming to improve the livelihood and downscale poverty levels as outlined in the Governor’s Manifesto.
The CEC Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Hon. Gilchrist Okuom on his part echoed the sentiments of others speakers urging the farmers to plant rice for nutrition and commercial purposes. He affirmed that through bench marking, technology and best practices the farmers have made a great stride.
He further urged them to build strong cooperatives that will help them market their produce. However he condemned in the strongest term the burning of one of the tractors by the locals and also cautioned farmers who do not pay for mechanization services. “Guard religiously the little we have” he stated.
The stakeholders who were present included: Mr Paul Omondi the Ward Admin, Jica, NITA, magos farm, Seed co, ETG, Banking institutions, Agrichem Africa, Health chemicals, Cooperative Societies from Ahero, Kano and Bunyala among many others.