The first Eastern and Central Counties Agribusiness Summit provided a good opportunity for farmers to learn and exchange ideas on modern farming.
The summit, held on August 7-9 at Chuka University, showcased new innovations and technologies in agribusiness.
The event brought together farmers and exhibitors from 13 counties including Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Kiambu, Nyandarua, Laikipia, Muranga, Meru and Kitui.
Tharaka Nithi county executive in charge of agriculture Kenneth Mburia said the event provided farmers with a platform to learn from each other and exchange ideas on marketing, value addition, processing agricultural products and using modern technology.
The following innovations were showcased.
Tissue culture banana farming
The tissue culture banana farming attracted a lot of attention, especially a banana branch from Embu county weighing 114kg.
Paul Njiru, a farmer and agricultural field officer at Safalmond Ltd, a company based in Embu that supplies farmers with superior high yielding tissue culture banana seedlings, said the youth can make a kill if they plant the new varieties.
According to Njiru, the tissue culture bananas are resistant to diseases such as banana cryptogam.
“The bananas take little time to mature and the seedling are readily available. The varieties include Williams (which can be grown in tea growing areas) and the Grand Naine variety which can be grown in coffee growing areas. Both species take one year to mature,” Njiru said.
He said farmers should prepare a suitable site for tissue culture banana orchard which should be protected from winds.
Planting should coincide with the onset of rains if irrigation water is not available.
“The orchard may be inter-cropped with other crops such as legumes and routine weeding should be done to reduce competition for available moisture, nutrients and remove breeding sites for injurious pests. Removal of infected leaves (de-leafing) should also be regularly done to ensure proper aeration,” he explained.
Tharaka Nithi, Meru, Embu, Kirinyaga and Murang’a counties are the top producers of banana and have embraced tissue culture banana farming. They have also formed the Banana Growers Association of Kenya, a lobby that oversees the interests of banana farmers in the country including sourcing for market, exchange of ideas and capacity building for members.
Simon Munywe from Kayole, Nairobi, came to showcase a briquette-making machine he invented in 2000 when former President Daniel arap Moi banned charcoal burning.
“Many Kenyans who were found selling charcoal were arrested, taken to court and others imprisoned. To save my brothers and sisters I invented the briquette-making machine,” Munywe said, adding that the machine can employ six people and contribute to conserving 31 tonnes of forest cover per year.
The machine, which costs Sh35,000, uses soil and a little sawdust to make briquettes.
Bailey seed farming
Farmers were also shown how to use bailey seeds to feed pigs and cows.
A bailey seed is put in a container of water and left for four hours to germinate. It is then put in a tray with a capacity of 2kg and left for 48 hours as it continues to be watered.
Nutrients are then added to the bailey and in four days, it is ready to be fed to poultry or six to seven days for pigs and cows respectively.