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    white fly jar

    ango farm­ers have cre­ated a trap that kills white­flies, a pest that causes 80-90 per cent dam­age to the fruit, through the use of a pher­omone chem­ical that is used to at­tract male white­flies and kill them.

    Kenya being the third-largest pro­du­cer of man­goes in Africa and mainly ex­port­ing to United Arabs, Kenyan man­goes face stiff com­pet­i­tion from man­goes from Ni­geria, due to high in­fest­a­tion rate of the white­flies. This res­ul­ted to Kenya de­cid­ing to ban the ex­port of loc­ally pro­duced man­goes in a bid to com­bat the pest.

    One such farmer who was among the first cas­u­al­ties of the ban was Mr. John Mutua a local farmer in Mak­ueni County.

    “When the ban first put on loc­ally pro­duced man­goes, my con­sign­ment was re­turned on the basis of high in­fest­a­tion by the flies. This made me suf­fer a great loss busi­ness-wise for me,” says Mutua.

    RE­LATED CON­TENT :White fly trap­ping gel halves ve­get­able pesti­cide use

    As a res­ult of not know­ing the best way to erad­ic­ate the pest ma­jor­ity of farm­ers de­cide to spray their crops with sev­eral in­sect­icides which also en­tirely do not help.

     “The biggest mis­take most farm­ers do is dir­ectly spray­ing in­sect­icide on to the tree of the fruit. This method does not really help in erad­ic­a­tion of the pest. In­stead, they end up caus­ing a lot of chem­ical build up on the fruits. Farm­ers could use jar traps to deal with the pest,” says Peter Wab­omba a pest con­trol ex­pert.

    The trap is a jar covered with a lid and punched holes on the sides the holes are laced with a pher­omone a chem­ical used to at­tract male fruit flies within a ra­dius of one Km of the farm. The chem­ical makes male flies to think they are going to­wards fe­male flies to mate but in­stead, they die im­me­di­ately they enter the jar. The more males that die, the lower the chances of fer­til­iz­a­tion, mean­ing that fi­nally, the pests are erad­ic­ated.

    RE­LATED CON­TENT:Potato farm­ers fly with cluster model

    This use of this method en­sures there is zero to min­imal chem­ical residue on the fruit. This method of erad­ic­a­tion was first used in El­geyo Marak­wet that has helped farm­ers get rid of this pest.


    “I re­mem­ber dur­ing, my last plant­ing sea­son I Lost al­most  80 per cent of my pro­duce be­fore I real­ized that it was the flies that were caus­ing the dam­age. If you would look at the fruit from the out­side it looked good, but once you cut it to the fruit it would be all rot­ten. But after I star­ted using these traps, my pro­duce for the past two sea­sons have been good and I was able to get Sh 1m after pro­duc­tion costs are re­moved,” says John Ki­plagat.

    An­other method farm­ers could use to pro­tect their fruits is by ster­il­iz­a­tion of the male flies this way, once they mate with the fe­male flies, they will not lay fer­tile eggs. This is a method that is set to com­pletely erad­ic­ate this pest.

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    Smallholder farmers in the coastal region of Kenya can triple milk yields from five to fifteen liters per cow by feeding their cows on creeping legumes such as clitoria and mucuna. These legumes are perennial plants rich in protein content, a key component in improving milk production efficiency and can be fed to dairy animals for up to four years.

    A report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics released in September 2017 shows that milk production in Kenya dropped by 17.5 per cent in the first five months of the year. The report indicates 215.9 million liters were sold to processors between January and May compared to 261.9 million liters in a similar period last year.

    A research conducted by the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) reports that clitoria, mucuna, siratro and dolichos legumes do well in coastal lowlands and can be mixed with Napier grass for increased milk yields in dairy cows.

    RELATED CONTENT: New fodder increases milk yields by 108 per cent and cuts production costs

    KALRO’s dairy researcher Sammy Tangus said that dairy cows fed on Napier grass alone yield only five liters per cow which is inadequate for commercialization by small scale farmers in region.

    “Dairy cows give more milk when they are fed on forage legumes. Legumes such as clitoria for instance are easy to grow and do not need to be weeded once they are well established, this means farmers can save on weeding costs” said Tangus.

    “Farmers should not over rely on Napier grass only; they should diversify into these better forages”

    RELATED CONTENT: Dairy farmers increase yields 5x conserving fodder

    Farmers can obtain legume seeds to plant in their farms at various seed producing companies such as Simlaw seeds, the East African seed company or the Kenya seed Company. One kilogram of the seeds cost Sh500.

    To plant clitoria/siratro farmers should make furrows on a cultivated piece of land using a pointed stick. The space furrows should be 1.5 feet (45cm) apart. Seeds should be drilled in the furrows and covered with soil.

    For dolichos/mucuna the spacing is recommended at three feet (90cm) by 1.5 feet (45cm). Two seeds should be planted per hole. Forage legumes can be intercropped with Napier grass, cassava or maize.

    RELATED CONTENT: Fodder shrubs a cheaper alternative to commercial feeds

    After three months the plants will mature and ready for harvesting. They should be cut at 6 inches above the ground and the process repeated every two to three months. Dolichos and mucuna can be cut quarterly until they dry up. Clitoria and siratro are perennial plants which can be fed to dairy animals for up to four years hence farmers will save on purchase of commercial feeds.

    Clioria and siratro can yield 2500 to 3750kg of fresh forage per acre while dolichos and mucuna yield between 3500 to 4500kg.

    Eight (8) kg of fresh legumes fed together with 60-70kg of fresh Napier grass will support milk yield up to 15 liters per cow per day. Growing of these legumes can save farmers 30 per cent of money which could have otherwise been used to purchase feeds.

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    Mexican Marigold

    By George Munene

    Mex­ican Marigold (tithonia di­ver­si­fo­lia) is for many farm­ers no more than a men­acing weed. For Allan Kamau, a mixed farmer in Ki­ambu County, however, using the read­ily avail­able weed known for its char­ac­ter­istic yel­low/or­ange flowers and strong odor has en­abled him to es­chew ex­pens­ive store-bought fertilizers.​as well as in­creas­ing his ar­row­root yield.

    “Ini­tially, I was using a fo­liar fer­til­izer made from water hy­acinth, but with a kilo­gram cost­ing Sh240, I found the price too ex­or­bit­ant while I did not ob­serve a marked im­prove­ment in yield. I em­barked on find­ing more cost-ef­fi­cient or­ganic fer­til­izer op­tions,” Allan ex­plained. 

    A Bio­lo­gical sci­ences gradu­ate, Allan stumbled on the idea of using tithonia as an or­ganic fer­til­izer while an in­tern at Kalro, Kandara. “After read­ing that it con­tains a high amount of NPK; Ni­tro­gen, Phos­phorus and Po­tassium and the pos­it­ive im­pacts it had had for potato farm­ers who cut and bur­ied it into trenches, I de­cided to in­cor­por­ate it in grow­ing my own tuber crops,” he said.

    Re­lated News: Fer­til­izer man­u­fac­ture en­list­ing or­ganic farm­ers to sup­ply ready mar­ket

    Re­lated News: Rab­bit keep­ing opens route to or­ganic farm­ing, fer­til­iser and pest con­trol

    On his 30×5-meter plot of ar­row­roots, the young farmer has ap­plied Mex­ican Marigold ex­trac­ted fo­liar for two sea­sons now. Not only him­self but his neigh­bors as well at­test to an im­prove­ment in his crop; “Hizindomazakoun­azi­fa­nyianini?” is a com­mon re­frain he gets from neigh­bor­ing farm­ers.    

    Col­lo­qui­ally re­ferred to as maroro, Allan soaks tithonia leaves plucked from a fence on his fam­ily home in a con­tainer and al­lows them to rot for three weeks. He for­ti­fies this with ash, crushed egg­shells and bio­gas slurry which en­riches the mix­ture and of­fers a more com­plete meal for his crops. Be­fore ap­plic­a­tion, he sieves the mix­ture be­fore adding equal parts of water. 

    Ash con­tains sig­ni­fic­ant amounts of po­tassium and cal­cium while provid­ing smal­ler amounts of phos­phorus and mag­nesium and mi­cro-nu­tri­ents like zinc and cop­per. Egg­shells are prob­ably the best nat­ural source of cal­cium con­sist­ing of up to 93 per cent of cal­cium car­bon­ate as well as trace amounts of min­er­als and other ele­ments which make it an ideal or­ganic fer­til­izer. Cal­cium also acts as an or­ganic pesti­cide that de­ters cer­tain pests without the need for chem­ic­als.

    He feeds the fer­til­izer dir­ectly onto the tuber stems every week after plant­ing be­fore the plant’s leaves de­velop their char­ac­ter­istic can­opy. “The leaves are often a prom­in­ent green with ro­bust stems,” he elatedly ob­serves. Tuber size is dir­ectly tied to the size of the feeder stem, con­sequently, the big­ger the stem is the more kilo­grams one har­vest.

    Re­lated News: Farm­Biz TV:Biochar or­ganic fer­til­izer gives 50% to 70% yield in­crease

    Hav­ing run suc­cess­ful tri­als on ar­row­roots, he is plan­ning on ob­serving the per­form­ance of a vari­ety of crops such as cof­fee under its ap­plic­a­tion. 

    Per in­fonet bio­vi­sion, when in­ter­planted with other crops tithonia has been ob­served to im­prove yields. This in­cludes ve­get­ables like kale, French beans and to­ma­toes as well as fod­der crops such as Napier grass.

    Tithonia also acts as a soil im­prover. Maize is known to re­spond well when its leaves and cut­tings are ap­plied. The best res­ults are ob­tained with the ap­plic­a­tion of 5 t/ha of leafy dry mat­ter.

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