Farmers pushed to plant hard crops

January 22, 2009
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, NYAHURURU, Kenya, Jan 22 – Farmers in Nyandarua North are being advised to shift focus from maize and beans and plant crops that can withstand harsh weather conditions.

Area District Commissioner (DC) Hassan Farah said  that failed rains in the last season had caused a bad harvest of the maize and beans staple foods, and this had precipitated hunger.

Mr Farah observed that since the demand pressure for maize was not sustainable, farmers should devote their time to drought resistant crops.

“The farmers should now change and invest more in planting drought resistance crops such as sorghum, millet, and sweet potato, among others that withstand the harsh conditions.”

He also advised area residents to change their eating habits to accommodate these foods.

The DC regretted that Nyandarua district, which is synonymous for a high agricultural yield, is now in the list of districts threatened by famine and earmarked for relief food.

The administrator made the remarks on Wednesday at a District Executive Committee meeting in his board room, where he pointed out that at least 100,000 people in the district are in desperate need of government relief food.

He said the dire situation had been compounded by the large influx of displaced persons in the area during the post election violence period.

Mathingira, Ndaragwa and Leshau locations in Ndaragwa and Kaibaga, lower parts of Tumaini and Rurii in Olkalau constituency were cited as the worst hit areas in the district.

The DC observed that at least 3,000 bags of maize, 1,000 bags of beans and 36 cartons of cooking oil were needed every month to feed those affected; who include about 40,000 IDPs plus residents who had exploited their food reserves after the poor harvest.

Mr Farah noted that of the expected harvest of more than 400,000 bags of maize, only half the target was realised. Similarly, only 54,000 bags of wheat were harvested against the expected 110,000 bags.

The region, which is well known for potato production, realised 535,000 bags against the expected 910,000 bags.

The DC assured residents that the government was doing everything it can to ensure no one starves in the district.

“Farmers who managed to get a harvest should conserve their maize; this will boost food security in the district,” he stated.

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