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    High Yield


    The new rice variety to be availed soon will save the country Sh7bn used in importing rice from other countries to bridge deficit gap.

    A new variety of rice is set to be released next year in February offering rice farmers the chance to plant a high-yielding, disease tolerant and early maturity rice variety.

    The locally developed rice variety which underwent its second field trials in August this year, is awaiting verification and publication in 2018.

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    The trial which were conducted by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) at their farm in Alupe, Busia County recorded an increase yield from three tonnes to 10 tonnes per hectare.

    “The trials are now over as per the government regulation on new seed varieties. We are now waiting for the National Performance Technical Committee to do the verification of the new tried variety and thereafter the National Variety Release Committee for publication,” said John Kimani, rice and cotton breeder, KALRO branch at Mwea.

    “I expect the whole process to take around two months then upon the release we will do the packaging, labeling and pricing to make it ready in the shops for farmers before the on-set of long rains next year.”

    The variety is expected to boost rice production in the country and save approximately Sh7bn that is used to import the produce from other countries.

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    “In Kenya we produce approximately 140,000 metric tonnes of rice annually against the high demand of 450, 000 tonnes annually. This pushes the country to import more rice mostly from Thailand and Pakistan to fill the gap,” said Kimani.

    “This new variety is as competitive as imported rice in terms of quality and affordability.”

    Under best agronomic practices a farmer can earn between Sh35, 000 and Sh100, 000 more per hectare with the new rice variety according to Kimani.

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    Smallholder farmers in Nyamira County are set to benefit from a free farmers training on fall armyworm (FAW) control that is set to take place on December 19th at Ronald Momanyi’s farm in Nyamusi location.

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    The fall armyworm is a moth, native to tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, but it is in the caterpillar stage when it causes damage to crops. It attacks more than 80 plants (food and non-food) including maize, cotton, pear sorghum, rice, tomatoes, cucumber, pastures, onions, kales and spinaches among others. It can cause up to 100 per cent loses if uncontrolled.

    As of September 2017, the worm had spread to 28 African countries including Kenya following the pests’ arrival in 2016 in the continent. In 10 of the countries affected (Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya amogst others) CABI Africa estimates the combined losses from FAW on maize yield lies between 7.2 and 17.9m tonnes per year and with commercial losses lying between Sh2.2b and Sh5.5b per year.

    In this, Nyamira Country farmers could gain from the training which will educate them on the pesticides to use, the procedure to be used in application and other natural control methods.



    Farmers spraying their maize to control fall armyworm in Kenya 




    The fall armyworm was first reported in Western Kenya by farmers in March 2017. It was immediately confirmed by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service and Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization. The initial counties infested were Busia, Trans Zoia, Bungoma, Nandi and Uasin Gishu according to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the pest destroying70 per cent of the crops affected.

    As countries turn to pesticides to reduce the damage, farmers face the risk of the pest developing resistance to treatment, which has become a widespread problem in the Americas.

    Biopesticides are a lower risk control option, but few of the biopesticides used in the Americas are yet approved for use in Africa, raising the need for urgent local trials, registration and the development of local production.

    “Maize can recover from some damage to the leaves. So when farmers see damaged leaves, it doesn’t necessarily mean they need to control. Research is urgently needed, and a huge awareness and education effort is required so that farmers monitor their fields, and can make decisions on whether and how to control,” said Roger Day, CABI’s SPS Co-ordinator.

    “There are natural ways farmers can reduce impact, including squashing the eggs or caterpillars when they see them, and maintaining crop diversity in the farm, which encourages natural predators.”

    According to CABI African governments should coordinate responses and advise farmers on identification, damage and control. They should also regularly review and update on recommendations to be taken.

    To control this pest, farmers should plant early and adhere to regional planting calendar by avoiding late and off-season planting. Avoid planting new crop near infested plants and use recommended fertilizers. Farmers should also keep fields weed free to boost plant vigor.

    Mass trapping should be done by setting up 4-6 FAW Pheromone traps per ha to suppress the moth population.

    The potential effective insecticides against this pest include: Diazinon, Alpha Cypermethrin, Chlorpyrfos, Diflubenzuron Triclorfon (Dipterex), Chlorantraniliprole, Spinetoram, Emamectin benzoate, Indoxacarba and Lambda Cyhalothrin.

     For effective control in maize, spray at least three times starting two weeks after emergence, at knee high and just before tasseling. However these products need to be used appropriately at right environmental conditions to minimize development of pest resistance. All farmers in a given locality should spray to avoid neglected farms, which become breeding grounds for the insect and a source of re- infestation.

     Farmers are discouraged from moving infested plant materials to areas where the pest has not been reported because it may increase chance of infection to other plants.

    The training will be held courtesy of Murphy chemicals ltd who are seeking to enlighten farmers on how to control the deadly worms.



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    Smallholder farmers can double their honey yields from 10kgs to 20kgs by adopting the use of modern beehives such as the Langstroth hive system which ensure easy harvesting.

    According to the African bee keepers, the producers of the contemporary beehive, a farmer can collect 20 to 30kgs of honey per harvest from Langstroth as opposed to the traditional log hives which fetch between 10 to 15kg.

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    The Langstroth beehive uses a multi-layered structure and removable frames to encourage bees to build their hives in an orderly fashion and make it easy for bee keepers to harvest honey. The frames are designed to separate honeycombs as bees attach honeycombs to adjacent frames making it easier for bee keepers to manage the bees and honey collection effortlessly.

    “Our Langstroth beehives are wholly Kenyan made using local material and are all fitted with 100 per cent bees wax comb starters, comb strips that are locally produced from bees wax coming from our local bees thus assuring quick colonization and free from foreign diseases transmitted from imported bees wax” said Ernest Simeoni, African Bee Keepers, operations manager.

    “I would recommend Langstroth bee hives to farmers who like to venture into bee keeping as a business as it improves production of honey”



    Langstroth bee hive

    Kenya produces approximately 7300 tonnes of honey every year, 700 less than what Tanzania produces according to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

    In this, farmers can take advantage of the opportunity to undertake bee keeping as a commercial activity to earn extra income. A kilo of honey in Kenya fetches between Sh400 to Sh1000 depending on the location. This means farmers can earn Sh30000 per harvest with one Langstroth beehive as compared to Sh10,000 with the traditional beehive.

    Farmers can purchase the Langstroth beehive from African bee keepers at the cost of Sh5000 per hive. The hive is normally fitted with beeswax to attract bees.

    Bees require little capital and land to keep. In setting up an apiary farmers should consider availability of water within a three kilometer radius. Flowers should also be present as they contain nectar, a sweet liquid secreted by flowers which is an important ingredient in the honey making process. The apiary should be free from disturbances, noise and free from human beings and animals. It ought to be in a sheltered place protected from strong sun and wind.


    When stocking, different ways can be used to encourage the bees to enter into an empty bee hive. One is use of swarm nets which are fixed high up on the trees trap bees. A catcher box with bees wax can also be used to attract bees. Once the bees have occupied it, they can be transferred to the main bee hive. This is done by placing the main hive on a higher position with the catcher box connected with a sloping board a as the bees usually move upward. A few puffs of smoke is then used to drive the bees into the hive.

    In a colony, worker bees are about 60,000 in number, drones are approximately 300 and there is only one queen whose function is to lay fertile eggs and keeping the colony together. Approximately five to seven drones are required to mate the queen who then lays between 1500- 2000 eggs per day. Mating only takes place once as the queen stores the sperms in a spermatheca for future use.

    Various pests that attack bees include the wax moth, bee louse, and honey badgers.  To control the pests, all infected combs should be removed and burnt except for honey badger whereby the hive is suspended by use of wires to prevent them from climbing the hive and eating honey.

    Farmers should take note when bees swarm, this can be due to shortage of food, overcrowding, dampness and bad smell, damage of brood combs or an infertile queen. To rectify this, regular checking should be done.

    Honey takes an average of one year to mature. When harvesting it, protective gear should be worn.  The process should be done in the morning or late in the evening when bees are less active. A bucket or pail can be used to collect the honey comb with the aid of a bee brush to brush off bees back into the hive.





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