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Daily Nation : February 15th 2014
16 SEEDS OF GOLD SEASON | BRIEFS WEED CONTROL FUNDING BOOST FOR STRIGA WAR A Sh258 million project has been launched to help smallholder farmers curb Striga weed, which has for long affected crops in the East Africa region. The project involves upscaling of the commercialisation of StrigAway, an herbicide-tolerant seed and treatment that controls the striga weed. It promises to reverse losses of up to 80 per cent incurred as a result of the weed. The project is an initiative of the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), that has partnered with the Feed the Future Partnering for Innovation in a programme funded by USAid. “This partnership is about increasing the food security to thousands of smallholder farmers in East Africa,” said AATF executive director Denis Kyetere (pictured). Saturday, February 15, 2014 DAILY NATION AQUACULTURE THE WONDER THAT’S FISHMEAL One ingredient that fish farmers need to keep close is the fishmeal, a brown flour or cake obtained after cooking and grinding fish or fish waste. It is produced from fish which has no human food demand. Fishmeal is the most desirable animal protein ingredient in aquaculture diets because of its high protein content, balanced amino acid profiles, high digestibility, tastiness and as a source of essential omega-3 fatty acids. It is also a natural organic fertilizer that was traditionally used before the advent of inorganic fertilizers. INDEMNITY» TAKING NO CHANCES More farmers seek refuge in insurance as long rains fail BEVERLY NDEGE firstname.lastname@example.org A massive drop in farm yields due to unpredictable weather patterns is forcing many farmers in the North Rift to turn to crop insurance. Mr Thomas Koech, a large scale farmer in Chereng’any, is one of them. For the past 30 years, Koech has cultivated maize, wheat and seed maize on his 200-acre farm. Last year, the 52-year-old was contracted by the Kenya Seed Company to supply seed maize on 95 acres. As fate would have it, the July long rains failed. “Farming is always risky,” he said. “A farmer can do everything right but is let down by natural calamities,” he says. Luckily, UAP Kenya had in- sured Koech on inputs. “I used about Sh3 million on fertiliser, seed, labour and other costs,” said Mr Koech. He was one of the 91 farm- ers covered by the underwriter under its weather-based insurance product, KilimoSalama. The farmers received a total of Sh15 million under the policy supported by Syngenta Foundation for Sustainable Agriculture. Koech only harvested 1,250kg of maize per acre against the average normal yield of 2,000kg. He received Sh500,000 in compensation. UAP’s head of agriculture insurance, Mr Isaac Magina, says the sector is vulnerable to climatic conditions. “The product was introduced to motivate farmers to return to their farms after a devastating loss,” said UAP’s operations manager, Mr Michael Oduor. In 2008, UAP started in- suring livestock and wheat farmers, targeting large scale farmers only. Three years later, it had more than 150,000 farmers under its fold, 75 per cent of whom are in small scale business. Mr Magina expects the A FARMER CAN DO EVERYTHING RIGHT BUT IS LET DOWN BY NATURAL CALAMITIES” Thomas Koech, farmer number to increase this year. Already KilimoSalama has secured Sh340 million from International Finance Corporation to increase its reach. Not all farmers, though, ap- preciate crop assurers. Some view them as ‘leeches’ out to exploit them. “The reality is that farmers do not trust insurance companies,” says Mr Hugo Wood, who owns a 9,000-acre wheat farm in Narok. Mr Wood says farmers think about machinery and bottomlines, not premiums. He was approached with a Sh12 million cover by two insurers, which he found ‘not worthy’. “I would love to insure the rest of my crops but I cannot afford it,” adds MrKoech. Mr Magina says the premi- ums are high because the sector is still young. “Claims made usually dent available reserves. As more farmers come on board the risks will be spread and the premiums will fall,” he says.
February 14th 2014
February 16th 2014