The planting season is almost here with us once more. Since agriculture is the backbone of the country, Maize farmers are busy tilling land in readiness for April when they will be planting maize.
Uasin Gishu and Trans-Nzoia counties have been known to be the highest producers of maize in the country. Despite the long rains that were there since last year November, the farmers are already preparing for the planting season. Though most of them are not sure whether to go for the usual maize planting or venturing into other agricultural products.
Maize farming has been a very good source of employment to many farmers in the two counties. most people have invested a lot in this field and it has been giving them great returns. Some farmers used to have other jobs but decided to quit so as to concentrate on maize and wheat farming.
Large scale farming of maize in Kenya keeps decreasing as time goes, as more farmers give up on the crop. Some of the reasons including climate change. The current climate seems to be fluctuating every year thus the farmer is not sure of when to expect rains. Sometimes they plant the maize, only to be followed by long dry seasons, thus leading to drying up of their crops.
Some farmers have already abandoned maize farming for bananas, potatoes, millet, sugarcane and other crops so as to avoid losses from maize farming. The farmers disclosed that it is not only climate change that has led to that, but also, presence of fake seeds in the market.
They stayed that nowadays, there are so many types of seeds in the market, some of which are fake. Such seeds are sold to the farmers, only for them to realize later that they cannot harvest the expected yields from the seeds.
Poor farming methods are also among the reasons forcing farmers to shift from maize farming. Most of these farmers still practice the traditional methods of farming, which leads to low yields. They have no enlightenment on the modern farming methods, and they also lack access to improved and well tested seeds that are suitable to their soils. High cost of mechanized agricultural equipment and inadequate funding in the sector are among the challenges being faced by the farmers.
Middlemen are a headache to them too. After a whole season of struggling and using all their resources so as to end up with good yields, they do not enjoy the fruits of their labor as middlemen have to get a share of the little that they get. The farmers do not have direct access to markets, therefore, they have to use middlemen who will help them sell their produce.
Article by Vera Shawiza.