Farmer goes back to maize farming

Bob Aston

By Bob Aston

Kanja Waweru, 60, a farmer in Muhotetu Division, Laikipia County stopped maize farming when he realized that despite the huge investment in maize he was unable to make a profit. Three years later he is now ready to resume maize farming after giving out a quarter of an acre for a demonstration plot which he expects to use as a yard stick for increasing his yield.

Kanja was investing more than Ksh 30,000 in maize farming but despite this he was harvesting around seven (7) bags per acre. He would then sell around five (5) bags per acre for as low as Ksh 2,300. This discouraged him from maize farming as the returns were lower than the amount invested.

“I did not see the need of continuing with maize farming as I was making a loss. This prompted me to venture into something else,” said Kanja.

ALIN has partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, MEA Ltd and Kenya Seed Company Ltd to set up the demo plot to support Sokopepe farmers in Sipili

“I decided to give out the demo plot because I want to practice Kilimo Biashara. The demo plot will enable me to learn best farming practices and I expect that this will help me to improve my yield,” said Kanja.

Kanja has been farming since 2002 in a three (3) acre piece of land. He has planted several enterprise crops like maize, beans and potatoes. He has a fruit orchard where he has grown passion fruits, oranges and tree tomatoes. He has also kept livestock as well as practicing rabbit rearing, bee keeping and fish farming.

MEA Ltd conducted soil analysis for him. This they said would be used to provide an accurate assessment of the soil’s fertility status that can be used to make fertilizer recommendations. This will ensure that there is enough fertilizer application to meet the requirements of the crops while taking advantage of the nutrients already present in the soil.

“I had not analysed my soil before. I was informed that this was contributing to low production as some nutrients were lacking in the soil. I am now going to follow the recommendation that was in the soil analysis report,” said Kanja.

The soil analysis report which he received from MEA Ltd indicated that his soil lacked phosphorous and nitrogen. He was advised to use 80kg/acre of NPK 23:23:0 and 50kg/acre of CAN. He was also advised to use lime.

 

Kanja was using DAP before but he was advised to start using NPK as his soil had become acidic. He has urged other farmers to have their soil analysed in order to know the type of fertilizer to use.

He has already been issued with four and a half kilos of certified hybrid seeds from Kenya Seed Company Ltd. The varieties that will be planted in the demo plot are; H520, H624, H629, H626, and H6210.

He has also been issued with 25kg of NPK 23:23:0 fertilizer and Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN) for top dressing by MEA Ltd.

He expects to be able to get more than 30 bags per acre after learning from the various trainings that will be conducted at the demo plot.

“I want to be a role model for other maize farmers and this will only be possible when my farm acts as an information centre. Farmers will be able to come to the demonstration plot and learn the entire process of farming from planting to post harvest grain handling,” said Kanja.

Kanja has not kept proper records of his farming enterprises. He has a vague sense of the direction his farm is taking and as such his agricultural enterprise is deemed to be risky and 'unbankable'.

He has now decided to join Farm Record Management Information System - Kenya (FARMIS Kenya). FARMIS Kenya has been introduced by Sokopepe to help farmers keep their farm records.

“FARMIS-Kenya will enable me to practice Kilimo Biashara as I will be able to capture records and truly practice farming as a business," said Kanja.

Registered farmers will purchase a Farm Book at Kshs. 850 per year for better records keeping and management. The system will also generate interactive reports like ledger reports, profit and loss accounts and balance sheet.

"I will be able to receive progress report on my farming activities and I will also be able to extract a profit and loss statement at the end of each season," said Kanja.

Kanja can be reached through 0735492922.