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NITROGEN

MACRO-NUTRIENTS
Just as food is to man, so is nutrients to plants!
Macro-nutrients are required by plants in large quantities and this can be present in soil or induced by man.
Nitrogen (being a macro-element) plays several roles which include;

Formation of vitamins

Takes part in cell division

Formation of chlorophyll

Formation of proteins
Formation of plant enzymes

 Formation of DNA and RNA

                                                                                   Increase seed and fruit production

Regulates availability of phosphorous and potassium
Aids in carbohydrate utilization.

It is therefore important to use elements made up of Nitrogen in order to successfully gain profits from a harvest.

Nitrogen deficiency
Whenever plants lack Nitrogen or when the nitrogen levels are low, some symptoms will self-present in plants.
Some deficiency symptoms include;

fruit production

Leaf chlorosis

 

Stunted growth
Premature leaf fall
Old leaves dry up
Fewer tillers in grain crops

 

 

 

Nitrogen fixation
There are two way to fix nitrogen in the soil, that is; organic or non-organic.

Organic
Correcting nitrogen deficiency using organic methods requires time, but will result in a more even distribution of the added nitrogen over time.
Some organic methods of adding nitrogen to the soil include:
Adding composted manure to the soil
Planting a green manure crop
Planting nitrogen fixing plants like peas or beans
Adding coffee grounds to the soil

Non-organic
Nitrogen as a plant fertilizer is common when purchasing chemical fertilizers. When looking to specifically add nitrogen to your garden, choose a fertilizer that has a high first number in the NPK ratio. The NPK ratio will look something like 10-10-10 and the first number tells you the amount of nitrogen. Using a nitrogen fertilizer to fix a nitrogen deficiency in the soil will give a big, fast boost of nitrogen to the soil, but will fade quickly.

IRRIGATION:MEANS OF SURVIVAL

Food security as one of the big 4 agendas is greatly affected by climate change. Due to global warming, farmers can no longer rely on rain-fed agriculture as the rain patterns have changed and are unpredictable. In the previous years, farmers could prepare early in time for they knew when the rains would come and hence food production was certain. Things have changed, rains are unpredictable, food production has decreased while the population of Africa keeps increasing. The population of Sub-Saharan Africa is rising at an estimated 3.2% per annum. The rising populations in countries mean demand for a reliable harvest is growing for with the rains or not, we must eat and therefore man must find a means of survival.

Cabbage farm at kwa kyai irrigation scheme

Barely two months after the president admitted that we as a nation can not feed ourselves,people are dying.Drought has hit us hard in most parts of the country.The meteorological department has predicted heavy rains anytime from now and soon,floods will be another crisis we will have to tackle as a nation.It is high time that we use the rains to our advantage and be prepared for the long dry seasons ahead after the rains have stopped.

Tomatoes under irrigation.

Small-holder farmers’ irrigation is a climate resilience option that needs to be adopted in the fight to eradicate hunger. Africa is endowed with an abundance of water resources, and therefore has a great potential to expand its irrigation systems if these resources are put to better use. Boosting rainwater harvesting and building small dams to capture runoff may help many farmers in areas where groundwater is limited. Irrigating our lands also means farmers can extend the growing season, increase productivity and incomes, and improve their livelihoods. Investing in irrigation could help protect the region’s food security in the face of more extreme weather conditions driven by climate change and be an engine of development.

FACTORS AFFECTING FARMING IN KENYA

Agriculture does not exist in a vacuum but its existence is triggered by various factors which influences and determines its performance. Some factors may hinder its growth while others may accelerate its growth .Research should be well carried out before any agricultural activity is started in order to curb all negative factors and make the favorable .Just like any other business investment, agriculture can turn out to be the deadliest investment when not well packaged. Some factors include human factors, biotic factors, climatic factors and edaphic factors.

factors affecting agriculture in Kenya

Human factors have a great impact in agriculture. This factors cuts across transport and communication sector. Imagine growing perishable good like French beans in a remote area where transport is a challenge, this will hinder transporting your produce to market especially during rainy seasons. Cultural and religious beliefs do not only affect how people behave and interact but also what farming can be carried .example among Muslims pig farming will not do well due to the systems.

Overall economy of the nation determines the purchasing power of agricultural products, a well-financed people will purchase more unlike Low income people. Farmers should carry a market research to determine purchasing power and what consumers want before planting .Government policies can make you a successful farmer or valueless farmers depending on if the policies favor you.

farm training

Biotic factors like pest’s disease, parasites and predators are the farmer’s worst enemies ever .pests can attack food in the farm while some attack food after harvesting like the weevils. Some pests spread disease to crops like the streak in maize which is spread by hoppers.parasaties attack livestock like the tsetse flies while pathogens are responsible for causing a lot of diseases in crops and they include bacteria and fungi. Despite the negative impacts by biotic factors some are useful to farmers in many ways. Some animals are used to aid in cross pollination, decomposition and nitrogen fixation.

effects of pests

Before farming farmers should analyze Climatic factors that range from amount, quantity and reliability of rainfall, the temperatures and wind.High temperatures increase transpiration and evaporation rate and may cause wilting. Temperatures can be cause of diseases in crops like in coffee. Windy areas should be keenly evaluated based on what type of crop is to be grown. Wind assists in pollination, seed dispersal and facilitates soil formation .It however affects negatively by spreading pests and disease, high evaporation rate which may cause wilting and distortion of perennial crops.

soil sampling

Type of soil is crucial, how fertile is your soil? Soil texture and soil PH affects the types of crops to be planted. Soil also determines water holding capacity and drainage .some crops require acidic soils while others do well in alkaline soils. Soil testing helps framer to know which crops to be grown because extreme PH affects growth of crops.

By: Patricia M Kombo

patriciah@africafarmers.org

SAVING THE LOCAL POULTRY FARMER.

Local markets are flooded with imported goods ranging from garlic, eggs, rice and watermelons just to mention but a few. Kenya as a country relies on agriculture to sustain our economy but with the current state, it looks like loans from the west are replacing everything.

The importation of goods that are grown by our local farmers serves as a discouragement to them as they end up selling their produce at a throw away price due to the high competition created. These imported goods once they are in the market, they go at a low price for example the eggs from Uganda. The price at which they are being sold is appealing to the buyers and hence they opt for them. If the local farmer sells his eggs at the same price as the Ugandan eggs, then he will be counting losses.

Eggs in a tray.

As a country we ought to stand together and support our farmers. If we kill the very people who strive hard to feed us, how then shall we eradicate poverty? The only way we shall eradicate poverty and elevate the standards of living is through supporting each other and not thinking of ourselves as individuals.

For instance, Yes, we think of that cheap commodity and decide to save some few coins by purchasing it. You go home satisfied; the Kenyan famer ends up not selling his commodity. He goes home and the same happens the next day and the days after. No income. How will he sustain himself or his family? Exactly, this you don’t know and as a matter of fact, it is no bother to you. The cost of living has gone up and even the rich are complaining. What will the other people do?

Kenyan traders are importing up to 5 million eggs from Uganda yet there are a lot of poultry farmers who are left stranded with their eggs. The imported eggs have been cheaply produced and selling them in Kenya at a low price is not a problem as they still obtain several shillings above the production cost. For this reason, the Kenyan government has come in to rescue farmers. Egg importers now are required to obtain clearance from the Cabinet Secretary of Agriculture to allow them to import eggs. The move will protect the local poultry farmers from the unfair competition.

Poultry farming

Other than the government stepping up to protect the farmers, those on ground should be vigilant. We have no wall to separate us from our neighbor’s and therefore there are several routes that traders can use to enter Kenya. Unity is paramount for the government can not work alone to ensure the survival of the local poultry farmer.

FARMERS STAND WITH TURKANA.

Have you ever skipped a meal? Or even walked for a long distance without water? How did it feel? Like you would die if you don’t get food, right? Now imagine, someone has not had a meal for days, has walked miles just to get even a single drop of water. Leave alone for himself or herself but for that child staring at her blankly. Imagine a child staring at a starving mother, fragile as she is but still must stand strong for she is the hero to the child. A hero who can’t save herself, but she still must strive to save the child. She can neither offer food nor promise the child tomorrow but all she has is hope. Hope in her sunken eyes.

Devastating it is. To some, only a story they heard of in the 1984 famine in Ethiopia which caught the world’s attention. A story told through the lenses by the late Mohammed Amin (MO). This time, we are not talking of Ethiopia. We are talking of Kenya, Our home. Our Mama Land. People in Turkana are facing starvation. Children are dropping out of schools and must trek miles to escape from the jaws of starvation. Where they walk to, they know not. Will there be food there? Will they see tomorrow? These, they themselves can’t answer. All they know is that they must walk and keep walking for behind them is death walking closely, waiting to devour them. The region has not received any rains in the last 9 months. To make it worse, they recorded poor yields last year due to a locust invasion in irrigated areas using rivers Turkwel and Kerio. No food, No water, temperatures of up to 42 degrees is what they must endure in a fight to survive.

Images have flooded our mainstream media; the social media is filled with pictures of frail people staring at the photographers hoping the cameras will come with food. Nine people have already died of hunger in Turkana Central and the same fate awaits thousands of others if nothing is done. For this reason, Friends of Farmers for Zero Hunger have joined hands to transport food to affected areas, donate farm inputs, set up and train residents in the affected areas to start growing their food. We not only believe in feeding someone but also training them how to get their own food. For who will feed them once they have consumed all that was donated? It is high time that we end this vicious circle and be a hunger-free nation.

Join us in this worthy course #FarmersStandWithTurkana