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    A Siaya County banker is earning Sh83, 000 a month from her side-hustle which involves raising different fruit seedlings and selling them for Sh120 to Sh200.

    Sellah Awino Migaya first started out as a poultry farmer in 2016, rearing kuroiler and indigenous variety of chicken, which earned her Sh150, 000 net per month she then ventured into fruit nursey seedlings farming in June 2017 as another way of earning her extra income.

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    “I am impressed with the way my poultry business is doing, this has motivated me into starting a fruit nursery in order to diversify my source of income,” said the Bondo Sub-county farmer.

    “I noticed people love fruits very much after observing how traders in the area market would run out of stock. This was an opportunity to produce seedlings for farmers within the area so that they can produce more fruits to save traders from hustling for the fruits from far.”

    With a starting capital of about Sh5000, Awino bought some few seedlings from the Kenya Agricultural & Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) branch in Kisumu while the rest she ordered from a fruit farm in Thika.

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    Some of the fruit seedlings that she nurtures in her nursery, which is set few metres from River Yala, include solo sunrise pawpaw, grafted yellow passion, pepino melon, Washington navel variety of oranges and South African variety of oranges among other seedlings.

    Between November and December last year she sold seedlings worth Sh83, 000 and was surprised by how the fruit nursery business had picked up in just six months.

    “I had about 237 mature seedlings and by mid-December last year and I sold all of them,” she said.

    Awino, who is now doing the restocking of her nursery, sells solo sunrise pawpaw seedlings at Sh120 each, grafted yellow passion seedlings at Sh200 each, orange seedlings at Sh160 each.

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    “Farmers like planting the Washington navel oranges because consumers prefer them as they are sweet oranges, large, seedless and have a rich, juicy flavor that is delicious for eating out of hand,” she said.

    To ensure she produces clean seedlings free from pests and diseases, Awino incorporates the production process experts from KALRO and Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS).

     

     

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             pastoralists-TZ.jpg

    An August 2017 report by the Kenya Meteorological Department has indicated that in Northeastern, Northwestern and Southeastern parts of the country , areas where over four million pastoralists reside , will experience enhanced rainfall until December, a factor that will facilitate the growth of grass for their livestock.

    “Foliage and pasture conditions in the pastoral areas of Northeastern, Northwestern and Southeastern Kenya are expected to improve significantly as a result of the expected good rainfall performance during the season,” reported the Kenya Metrological Department.

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    “The onset of the rains is expected in the second to third week of October and the cessation during the fourth week of November to first week of December.”

    During the rainy season, grass grows faster due to the presence of enough water however this can also be lead to the growth of soft grass which experts warn it should not be fed to the animals when fresh.

    “When the rains come, new young grass sprouts,this is very good for the animals. Animals easily pick at the soft grass and eat it up in big quantities but farmers should take care because this grass has a lot of water and little fibre, which is not very good for the animal,” said Peter Muturu, Livestock Production Officer- Nairobi County.

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    “Animals need fibre for proper digestion. The water fills up the stomachs and it is virtually useless.”

    Muturu advises livestock keepers to harvest or cut some of the young grass and dry it under the sun,this will turn it into good feed.

    The rainy season is also the season when most livestock farmers in arid and semi-arid lands (ASALs), grow fodder crops like Cenchrus Ciliaris (African Foxtail Grass) which is the grass of choice for ASAL areas. This grass specie is highly palatable with high leaf production.

    Pasture production in most pastoral areas in Kenya is based on Cenchrus ciliaris and Erasgrostis superba grass which is loved by the Maasais according to Kerio Valley Development Authority. The two are the most popular pasture species in ASALS where livestock rearing is the mainstay economic activity.

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    Cenchrus Ciliaris grass for instance can produce up to 200 bales of hay from one hectare of land under good agronomic practices. Upon maturity, the grass can be used to make hay, stored and fed to livestock during the dry season when there is little growth of grass.

    It can be of good use during dry spells when pasture is a major challenge to livestock farmers or pastoralists in these areas.

    The first rainy season of this year the country experienced below-normal rainfall that was mainly recorded during March-April-May. Most parts of the country experienced generally sunny and dry weather conditions during June-July-August according to the weather report.

     

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    WhatsApp.PNG


    Lack of better and up-to-date information that has made most farmers make uninformed decisions on farming practices leading to unnecessary losses has prompted group of some agricultural experts from western and parts of Rift Valley to start up a farmers’ Whatsapp group with the aim of sharing agribusiness information to bridge the information gap.


    The group which is known as Kilimo Bora Public Private Partnerships comprises of agricultural officers from public and private sectors, information officers and farmers.


    Mr. Milton Patrice, an agricultural extension officer from Bokeira Ward in Nyamira County is one of the founders and administrators of the group. “When we realised that our farmers were lacking better and immediate information on farm practices, we decided to start a WhatsApp group to help them,” said Patrice.

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    To avoid confusing farmers who are the majority in the group, the group is strictly about sharing agribusiness stories and any member posting anything other than that is warned or even expelled from the group if need be.


    “In this time of heated political and social debates across the country we protect our members from being diverted from the main purpose of the group which is to share agribusiness issues to something else by sternly taking proper actions on members who post irrelevant posts,” said Patrice.


    Some of the information circulated in the group include proper agronomics from planting to harvesting, new seeds and fertilizer, emerging technology in farming, farm machinery, agricultural events, and new methods in farming among others.


    The group now prides in 233 members of which 200 are active since it was started in February this year. Every month over 40 farmers receive information on up to date upcoming agricultural events and new seed varieties . Trainings are organized and facilitated by extension officers within and outside the group.


    “Since I joined Kilimo Bora Public Private Partnerships WhatsApp group I have benefited from advice from experts, connection with farm input suppliers and frequent assessments of my onion farm by extension officers,” Said Mercy Kemunto who is expecting to harvest her one acre of onions early August.


    Patrice says that they have managed to group farmers in different areas for the benefit of those who cannot afford to be on WhatsApp due to one reason or another.


    Farmers are just one of those many Kenyans who take advantage of the speedy Internet and the wake of smartphone usage in Kenya to help them get and share information not only to grow themselves but also the community.


    Akamai’s 2016 State of the Internet report ranked Kenya’s internet as the fastest in Internet speed in Africa and Middle East.

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