More than 6,000 Murang’a farmers are set to benefit from a free two day training courtesy of Kenyatta Agricultural Center. The training seeks to help farmers in the area diversify their crop production from over dependence on coffee, tea and macadamia to other crops such as avocado farming to reap more income.
“The free training will be held at Mariira farm along Kabati- Kangari Road from 16th to 17th March 2018 and will be attended by at least 45 stakeholders in the agricultural sector including seed companies, agro chemical industries and farm machinery companies,” said Peter Muchiri, the Principal Kenyatta Agricultural Training Center.
“Over 60 per cent of smallholder farmers in the region grow coffee and tea, coffee production for instance has declined over the years with production in 2017 estimated at 35m tonnes against a potential yield of 70m tonnes,”
In the 1980’s, Murang’a produced 200m metric tonnes of coffee a year. It is projected that by 2022, coffee farmers will have reduced from the current 70,000 to below 40,000 farmers according to the ministry of agriculture.
In 2015, the County lost 710 acres of coffee to the construction industry mainly the real estate sector as well as to other agri-business ventures such as macadamia farming.
A past farmers training/Photo/File
Farmers in the region are expected learn more on avocado farming. In this, they will be educated on the varieties to grow suitable for their regions. A Majority of farmers in the area grow fuerte and pinkerton varieties but Muchiri says there is need to adopt hass variety which is in high demand in the local and international markets.
Avocado contributes seven per cent of Kenya’s total fruit export to the global market but production has been static over the years. Farm production stood at 230,948 tonnes in 2015, rising slightly to 246,057 tonnes in 2016.
About 387.2 tonnes worth Sh5.4b was exported in 2016, compared to 461.1 tonnes worth Sh7.1b last year as per the Agriculture and Food Authority of Kenya data. Most of the fruits are exported to the European Union.
However, the export of the crop was banned in January this year due to severe shortage that raised the price of the fruit to a three and half year high. A single avocado for example is currently retailing at between Sh50 to Sh80 in Nairobi’s retail markets up from between Sh10 to Sh20 in the high season.
Besides avocado farming, farmers will also be trained on livestock management practices such as fodder production and conservation- silage making, hydroponic fodder production and different types of chaff cutters.
In the crop production category they will learn on greenhouse technologies and the new hybrid seed varieties in the market such as KATEH01 maize lethal necrosis diseases resistant variety amongst others.
For more information, interested farmers can contact Peter Muchiri on +254 726591694