A number of farmers in Nakuru County have abandoned or reduced maize acreage significantly for the lucrative hay farming.
County Executive for agriculture, Dr. Immaculate Maina, said hay farming was the new craze in the county because farmers have realised the profitability of the business.
She was speaking Monday during a press conference at her office.
She said the country has over two million small-scale dairy farmers who own a minimum of two cows at the least, hence there are over four million cows waiting to be fed with hay.
Dr. Maina said the reduced land sizes means, the four million cows, which are owned by small-scale farmers, depend on hay to feed their cows since the majority of them are kept in zero-grazing units.
She commended farmers who have diversified into hay growing saying the county will continue to encourage diversification of farming in order to make it profitable and business oriented.
We have discouraged our farmers from the old mindset of growing crops for the sake of it or just because that is what the family or area has always grown. We want our farmers to be versatile and widen the market for their crops,” she said.
Treasurer of Rift Valley Hay Growers Association, Mary Ngeta, said their objective was to promote quality hay production and sustainable supply to dairy farmers all over the country and beyond.
Ngeta said the changing weather patterns in the country has made it difficult for dairy farmers to depend on natural grass to feed their animals since the cyclic dry and drought spells seem to be getting longer.
She said Boma Rhodes was the most popular type of hay which was grown in the county because it matures fast, and at the moment the seeds are widely available.
She added that their major markets were in Kiambu, Kisumu, Kisii, Kakamega, Nyamira, Machakos and Mombasa counties.
Due to the high demand for the hay during dry spells, some dairy farmers from other counties have subcontracted hay farmers in Nakuru County.
Source: Kenya News Agency