Smart-Farmer-Magazine 37-October November 2017


Our motivation is to enable farmers to smartly engage in agribusiness. For the majority, this is not a hobby, but a worthy investment of time, effort and finances for reasonable returns. In this edition, we provide a step-by-step guide for poultry keeping. A minimum of 300 layers, experts say, is the least one should keep to make commercial sense, and fetch one up to Ksh700,000 a year.

With 1,000 layers, one can rake in Ksh2.4million a year However, this business can be fraught with challenges. It is advisable to start small and get to where you want to be.

In this article, we highlight what farmers need to know and do. To succeed, a farmer must fully understand the cycle from acquiring chicks to the time they start laying eggs.

Knowledge of brooding, lighting and temperatures; diseases, and vaccination is critical. And it could not have come at a better time than in the run-up to the October 13 World Egg Day. This is when the message of the need to promote egg production for excellent health benefits is spread worldwide. Eggs are an affordable source of high quality protein. There are more useful snippets of information for farmers.

At Egerton University, researchers are working on an innovation to boost food security and provide farmers with fortified feed for their animals. Dr John Nduko and Dr Anthony King’ori have discovered a new technique to harvest and process grasshoppers and termites into protein to make affordable nutritious feeds.

We also seek an answer to the question as to whether permaculture is the future of food production.

Associated with this movement is the term organic, meaning produced or derived from nature. Permaculture is a practice that mimics how nature works as a model for human living, especially where food production is concerned.

For potato farmers in Nyandarua County, the construction of a Ksh100 million potato research and production centre is good news. It will guarantee quality, climate, disease and pest-resistant seeds.

In the same county, there is a fruitful venture for farmers: the Pepino melon. A farmer, who started growing the fruits only last year, wishes he had done so much earlier.

From Trans Nzoia County is the success story of a farmer whose dairy is attracting many others keen to learn how from him. Also, farmers can now afford to smile, as the deadly maize necrosis can now be easily checked, thanks to a new portal developed by scientists from the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre.

The portal provides real-time data and disease surveillance tools. Another vital breakthrough is a goat plague vaccine that can be used without having refrigeration.

There is also this new technology that has reduced the warning time for locusts to just two months. Desert locust experts at FAO have developed the tool to monitor and reduce destruction by these pests.

This edition is, indeed, heavy on technological interventions. They include the application of the ‘Panoramix’ spray, which enhances crop growth. But experts are also warning that African soils are losing fertility. Climate change and poor land management are threatening soil fertility.

And from our veterinary expert is a reminder to farmers to vaccinate their animals to avoid huge losses. In animal health, to paraphrase an old adage, if you think vaccination is expensive, then try disease. There is much more to enrich your experience as a farmer. Just sit back and enjoy the read!