Thursday, December 12, 2013

Kenya@50, Happy Jamhuri Day

Today we are marking the 50th anniversary of Kenya’s freedom and self rule. We remember the driving force and motivation that freedom fighters had during the struggle for independence. The founding heroes identified three major issues which were; poverty, illiteracy and disease. 

The Ngarua Maarifa Centre is pleased to join the National and local leaders and the people of Kenya in marking this fateful event.

In support of the well founded independence dreams, we at Ngarua Maarifa Centre at Sipili, Laikipia County, have joined hands with the community and well wishes to deliver practical information, through modern ICT technologies and library services. 

Our facility “Maarifa centre’’ is probably the only place where you get in, access free internet, learn computer package free of charge amongst other information needs. We also support farmers’ to access modern farming practices and strategies to access better markets and fight poverty. Health information is also accessible at our library and the free internet at our resource centre. 

We therefore cannot shy away from declaring that we are at the centre of the independence dreams and aspiration and we are certain that together we will win the race and usher in new emerging changes and set new goals to overcome the current challenges in the near future.

Kenya@50 is taking place at a time when the last of ban African leaders are exiting the arena, the latest being South Africa’s First black president; Nelson Mandela. The world has marveled at the weight of the loss of this great hero. He is setting history even in death. 

We wish you a happy Jamhuri day, with a call to re-evaluate the ideals for our new struggles@50.    

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Early detection, best for control of Army worms

By Bett Kipsang’

Army worms are green-striped caterpillar larvae of the adult army worm moth; they are among the most destructive crop pests and a common pest of grass. Army worms will also eat corn, beets, beans, clover, flax, millet and other grains. Mature caterpillars can ruin an entire crop field in only a few days. The name “Army worm” is derived from its feeding habits; they travel in small armies, eating everything in their path.

Noah Koinet, inspecting an Army worm trap
 At larvae stage, the moths feed very heavily and can wreak havoc on crops if left to multiply; they eat everything in an area until the food supply is exhausted, then the entire “army” moves to the next available food source.

Once its wings are fully dried and expanded, the adult butterfly or moth can fly in search of a mate. Mated females lay their fertilized eggs on appropriate host plants, beginning the life cycle anew.  
Some of the signs that of army worms infestation is an increase of the number of birds in your yard. Birds eat the caterpillars, but usually do not eat enough of them to keep the infestation under control. Brown spots on your lawn are often the first sign that army worm are about to strike.

Army worm
 Look for holes in the leaves or pieces missing off of leaf edges where the army worms have eaten them. Look under the plants for army worms or signs of their droppings. You may also find larvae under plant debris lying in the field. If you are growing barley or wheat, you may find worms inside of the heads.
Control measures.

Army worms are hard to detect as the caterpillars migrate at night in search of new feeding areas. The best way to control Army worms starts with understanding and looking for early signs of army worm
  damage. The earlier you treat the problem, the easier it is to control and the lesser the damage crops will sustain.

Cut the grasses short, then collect and burn or water it well to move the caterpillars out of the thatch. Spraying the grass heavily with a liquid insecticide kills the pest; make sure to follow the manufacturer’s directions. Leave the sprayed lawn alone for at least 3 days without mowing or watering to give the insecticide time to work.

The ministry of agriculture has developed a method of detecting the signs of Army worms in an area. A trap with pheromones substance is placed in an open field to attract female moths to the trap; the substance producing male like scent also has tranquilizing effects that makes the insect immobile. If a female moth is seen in the trap, it is a clear indication that army worms are visiting the area.

 ‘‘We check the trap every week, and we raise the alarm quickly in case we find the moths’’ said Noah Koinet, an agriculture extension officer in Sipili division. Noah told the Ngarua Maarifa centre that the government is always on high alerts for any sign of migratory pests.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sipili strides closer to Cereal Banking

By Bett Kipsang’

Mr. Kanyugo receives a certificate  for warehouse operators
 Farmers in Sipili will soon store their cereals in a warehouse and use a receipt as security for bank loans. This emerged from a sensitization meeting organized by the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and the Sipili cereal bank. 

The method known as warehouse receipting system enables stores, certified by EAGC to issue receipts to farmers upon receiving the cereals. The system will cushion farmers from losses due to low prices during harvest and the rush to sell produce to meet basic financial needs. 

Speaking during the meeting, Jane wanza, an EAGC officer said that the process of certifying the Sipili Cereal Bank was in advanced stage. Maize and other cereals banked in the store can attract international buyers as well as meeting the needs of farmers in case of food shortage. 

In attendance was the local leaders among them one chief and two assistant chiefs for Wangwache location, Kaharati and Dincom sub-locations among others. The Divisional Agriculture officers and ALIN’s staff were also present and had a chance to talk to farmers about their contributions to towards marketing of farm produce. ALIN is implementing, Sokopepe an online market access project in the area.  

The meeting was called to sensitize stakeholders about the certification of the Sipili cereal bank so that farmers are prepared to benefit from the initiative. The cereal bank was started in the year 2000, by the Catholic Men’s Association to address issues of food insecurity. 

Joseph Mwati the cereal bank chair receiving a certificate
Steps to enable farmers in the area access better prices are in their advanced stagesi. Mr. Kamau the DAEO for Sipili said that Laikipia Produce and Marketing Cooperative Society has received an agency certificate to sell certified seeds to farmers.

Kamua urged farmers to ensure that soils from their farms are tested to determine the kind of fertilizer to be used. The DAEO lamented that the season has seen a drop in maize production from the expected (222,500) bags to (112,500). The drop is attributed to poor farm management and lack of access to planting materials by farmers.

Jane wanza urged farmers to buy and plant genuine seeds instead of taking shortcuts by using cheap none certified seeds. Jane further clarified that good handling procedures must be adhered to and that access to better markets starts from planting in the right way through proper management to post harvest handling. 

‘‘Poor handling of maize exposes the cereal to aflatoxin which causes liver cancer and death’’ she said. Four warehouse handlers who were trained by EAGC were issued with certificates and the organization promised to organize more training for farmers.  

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