Hundreds of farmers Saturday turned up for the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic in Kericho where agricultural experts and seed companies offered free training on the best farming practices for maximum profit.
The sixth edition of the clinic, themed Investing Appropriately, Farming Sustainably, was organised by Seeds of Gold, a publication within the Saturday Nation, at the Tea Research Institute grounds.
It was graced by several specialists from partner and sponsor companies including Elgon Kenya Ltd, Simba Corp Ltd, Egerton University, The Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation and Parksons agrovet.
“Nation Media Group is keen to bring together farmers and various professionals who they interact with every Saturday through our flagship agricultural product, Seeds of Gold. We often go out to make sure that farmers get more than just what they read,” said Group Advertising Manager Symon Bargurei.
“We are here to basically promote what Seeds of Gold stands for, which is best agricultural practices. We are encouraging farmers to look at better ways of generating more produce through better farming techniques,” said Mr Bargurei, adding that although the country depended largely on agriculture, avenues have not been available for farmers to know how to deal with the various challenges that come with what they do.
The event featured a knowledge exchange programme (clinic) where farmers asked specific questions to experts.
They would later walk around the stands where various companies showcased products ranging from seeds, animal feeds, value added products to pesticides.
Another focus at the event was how subsistent farmers and those with small fractions of land can earn maximum yields and better quality from it.
Dr John Bore, director of Tea Research Institute, who was the host, said they have released 53 varieties of high yielding tea some of which will guarantee farmers a maximum yield of about 8,000kgs of tea per acre per year.
And Dr Ayub Macharia, the director in charge of environmental education and awareness at the Ministry of Environment, lauded the move by NMG.
“I want to congratulate NMG for organising this event. There is a lot of learning going on here by different players. This shows synergy between the media and different experts which is very commendable,” he said.
He said the ministry took the opportunity to shed more light on how to sustain the environment while farming to prevent degradation as well as teach farmers to use alternative seedling bags following the ban on plastics.
“The August 28 plastic bag ban affected farmers who were the main users. These people who deal with tree seedlings including tea can get alternative bags from the government or improvise by using plastic containers that lie around or alternatively bamboo trees as containers because they are hollow,” said the environmentalist.
“These are some of the best release clones. But its not enough for a farmer to plant it, they have to also embrace the right farming technologies to ensure maximum productivity. That is why we give farmers the best agricultural practices from the time of planting to plucking as well as the various products that can be made from tea,” said Dr Bore.
Mr Nelson Sitienei of Syngenta company said they educated farmers on how to prevent the most dreaded attack on maize by Fall Army worm and also treatment on already attacked plantations using a new pesticide.
Simba Corp showcased to farmers various farm equipment that would ease and better their productivity which the company official, Mr Peter Njeru, said can be acquired on loan by farmers through any bank.
Clinic brought seed companies and agricultural experts to offer training on best farming practices.