Governor urges government to reconsider decision on free trade

Trans Nzoia Governor, Patrick Khaemba, has urged the government to reconsider its decision to allow free trade between the East African Countries, saying the move was hurting sale of maize in the region.

Speaking in Kitale town over the weekend,Khaemba said the EAC agreement was negatively affecting farmers with traders buying maize from Uganda and selling it in the County, thus hurting marketing of the commodity.

He lamented increased shipment of maize from the neighbouring country, despite the fact that farmers in the region have harvested their own maize.

We border Uganda which grows maize with cheap farm inputs and sale of their cereals to Bungoma and Trans Nzoia counties was affecting our farmers negatively, he said.

Khaemba said challenges facing the maize sector in the area were enormous, though his administration had put interventions to scale up productivity this year.

He raised concern over a noted drop in maize production in the region due to overuse of DAP fertilizer which has made soils acidic, thus causing low production, but added that the County Government had opted for alternative blended non-acidifying Mavuno Fertilizers.

Productivity had declined from 30 bags of maize per acre to 14 bags but since we started using the blended fertilizer specific for the County, we have seen a remarkable increase in maize harvest to 25 bags per acre, he said.

The Governor noted that there were other factors lowering productivity, including hardpan formation in the soil which inhibited the plant roots from penetrating further to access essential mineral salts, and also fast drying of water occasioned by surface run off during heavy rains.

Consequently, the governor said they have purchased modern equipment to encourage zero tillage in cultivation of farms.

This was to ensure minimal disturbance of the soil surface as the correct depth for cultivation is penetrated by the equipment, he added.

Khaemba urged farmers to embrace modern technology of farming, adding they will offer skilled services to willing farmers at a small fee.

Meanwhile, the devolved unit was working closely with the national government to ensure farmers were trained in the best practices to achieve food security in the country.

Source: Kenya News Agency