Kalro urges maize farmers to harvest before El Niño rains

Rains could cause massive destruction of crops, it said

In Summary

• Country expecting bumper maize harvest

• El Nino rains expected to run for three months

KALRO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger (L) has a word with senior officers from the organization.
Maizse KALRO Director General Dr. Eliud Kireger (L) has a word with senior officers from the organization.
Image: George Murage

The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation is warning of massive maize losses if farmers do not harvest before the expected El Niño rains in October.

While calling on the farmers to start early harvest, the research organisation said the projected rains could cause damage to crops in the field.

This came as the organisations moved in to engage seed producers to help in the seed-multiplication exercise to meet rising demand across the country.

The meteorological department has warned that the country will record heavy rains from October, a month when farmers are expected to start harvesting maize.

Kalro director general Dr Eliud Kireger said they are currently engaging farmers on the harvesting process before the rains start.

He said that they had a database of more than five million farmers, adding that they were using the information to reach out so as to avoid any losses.

“We are calling on farmers to start harvesting early because the projected rains might end up destroying the produce or affecting its quality,” he said on Monday.

The Director-General added that early harvesting would also give the farmers a chance to dry the maize in advance and protect the produce from aflatoxin.

Kireger was addressing the press at the Kalro farm in Naivasha after launching the National Agricultural Value Chain Development (NAVCPD) project.

He said the Sh3.5 billion World Bank project was meant to transit small-scale farmers from subsistence to commercial farming.

He said that the five-year project targeted 16 sectors including dairy, poultry, coffee, cotton, pyrethrum, avocado and rice.

“We shall be working with farmers in 33 counties, and this project will address the issue of marketing and value addition,” he said.

Kireger said that with an increase in the number of farmers moving to commercial farming, the organisation expected an increase in demand for seedlings and livestock breeds.

“As the farmers transition from subsistence to commercial farming, we expect a rise in demand for seedlings and livestock breeds, and we are already working on this,” he said.

The organisation deputy director in charge of crops, Dr Felistus Makini, said they are working with private companies in seed multiplication.

She said availability of certified seeds remains a challenge to farmers across the country, adding that the NAVCPD project will help to address this.

“The project will help increase food production, reduce imports of farm produce and household levels as women will be some of the major beneficiaries,” she said.

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