Kenyan farmers can now have their disease-ridden crops diagnosed for free following the introduction of a diagnosis and prescription clinic at Nairobi-based international agribusiness firm, Amiran Kenya.
The farmers are only required to present samples of affected crops for diagnosis to production experts, who will study the specimens before recommending appropriate solutions.
Timothy Munywoki, an agronomist in the agribusiness organisation, said remedy can be nutritional, chemical or biological, husbandry, among other ways.
Why free service
Because of reduced number of extension officers, farmers buy chemicals over the counter without expert diagnosis and recommendation. This, many a time, leads to dismal returns or loss of the entire investment.
“Farmers have the habit of looking at symptoms and deciding on the chemical to apply to save their crop. It does not always work. Amiran Kenya decided to offer free consultation to help farmers in identifying the exact infection and giving the right cure,” he said.
Susan Kuki of Embu County is one of the beneficiaries of the clinic, which is in the firm's agroshop. She brought five sample onions, which she planted two and half months ago.
The leaves had silvery streaking/whitish blotches. Munywoki identified the brown spots as effects of thrips, which were hiding in the lower parts of the leaves.
The variation in size was strikingly worrying despite being of the same age and ecological conditions.
While two of them showed readiness for harvest, the three oval ones were at various levels of development with the least appearing as if they were two weeks old.
Why the difference
Besides malnutrition, which is causing the size difference, he asked the farmer to remove soils around the bulbs to allow for expansion.
“Wrong transplanting causes oval-shaped onions. The bulb is turning oval because compact soil is limiting normal round development,” Munywoki said.
Kuki may have planted the seedlings into the soil instead of covering only the roots and leave the stem to expand.
He prescribed fertilisers like NPK Triple 17 and foliar fertilisers like Multi-K Potassium Nitrate to boost bulb development. He also suggested that Kuki buys pesticide-Prove-to fight the thrips.
Drip irrigation is the commonest way of applying fertiliser.
If there is no recovery, the agribusiness firm sends an agronomist to the farm to further evaluate the problem.
More farmers from Nairobi and surrounding counties have been visiting the organisation’s offices along Mombasa Road.
Amiran Kenya has agronomists in place like Gatanga, Homa Bay and other parts of the country to offer such clinical support to farmers who cannot reach Nairobi.
Munywoki can be reached on +254719095259/+254728853914