In Summary
  • The Seeds of Gold event held last Saturday at Egerton University was one of a kind as farmers engaged tens of experts on farming tips.
  • The issue of aflatoxin in maize, wheat and animal feeds stood out as the country grapples with the problem that has been linked to an increase in cancer cases.
  • Dr James Obiro, an animal health scientist from Egerton University, said heat failure can be caused by poor feeds and hormonal imbalance.
  • Joseph Ng’ang’a, New Holland regional sales consultant, informed farmers on their wide range of agricultural tractors and their implements and combine harvesters to ease work and that financing is available with local banks.

Egerton University in Njoro, Nakuru County, was the place to be last Saturday for any discerning farmer seeking to grow their agribusiness.

The university was a beehive of activity as tens of agriculture experts, agro-dealers and farmers congregated for the Seeds of Gold Farm Clinic, Rift Valley edition.

Driven by thirst for knowledge, the farmers came from far and wide, eager to engage the experts and pick as many lessons as possible from the event, whose theme was, ‘Enhancing food security through technology and innovation’.

Some came from Nakuru and its environs and others from the neighbouring Nairobi, Kiambu and Narok counties.

Well, there are those who travelled all the way from Bungoma, Makueni, Nandi, Kericho, Embu, Siaya, Busia, Trans Nzoia, Murang’a and Kakamega.

And the farmers did not disappoint, shooting straight the questions as soon as the event got underway shortly after 9am.

The issue of aflatoxin in maize, wheat and animal feeds stood out as the country grapples with the problem that has been linked to an increase in cancer cases.

Joshua Kering, a farmer from Njoro, lamented that every year, a huge chunk of his maize is declared unfit for consumption when he takes it to millers in Nakuru Town.

Dr Meshack Obonyo, a researcher in biochemistry at Egerton University and a specialist on reducing aflatoxin, advised farmers to adopt safe post-harvest practices.

“One of the challenges is that farmers harvest their grains, which have high moisture content but don’t dry them properly. They then store them in ordinary bags, hence cases of rotting,” said Dr Obonyo.

Then instead of disposing of the bad grain, they feed it to their poultry and dairy cows.

HORMONAL IMBALANCE

“Aflatoxin is bad to animals just as it is to human beings. Once the animals feed on the bad grain, when you milk them or eat the eggs, you accumulate the toxins in the body, which cause problems to body organs such as liver, kidneys and oesophagus,” said Dr Obonyo, noting the toxins lead to cancer.

He advised farmers to use improved storage bags that have three layers of polythene material to store their maize after proper drying.

Farmers follow proceedings during the Seeds of Gold farm clinic in Njoro last weekend

Farmers ask questions and follow proceedings during the Seeds of Gold farm clinic in Njoro last weekend. After the question and answer session, the farmers were taken on farm tours at the expansive college, with specific experts acting as guides. PHOTO | FRANCIS MUREITHI | NMG

“The bags keep away aflatoxin and pests for more than two years if the maize is hygienically dried,” said Dr Obonyo.

Josphat Karanja from Kiambu lamented how his cows take up to six months after calving to get on heat, despite feeding them with minerals.

He also wanted to know why his animals don’t conceive with first insemination.

Dr James Obiro, an animal health scientist from Egerton University, said heat failure can be caused by poor feeds and hormonal imbalance.

“An animal needs a balanced diet and one must get veterinary advice once the animals calve. Such an animal should be given a hormonal therapy and offered any other treatment to ensure they are healthy.”

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