By James Mwai
The unpredictable rainfall during the March-May 2016 “Long-Rains” Season has caused delay in planting in most parts of Ol-Moran Ward in Laikipia West Sub County. Although some farmers had planted early and some are even weeding, majority of farmers started planting during the last week of April.
Mr. James Kamau, Ol-Moran Ward Agriculture officer urged farmers planting late to go for early maturing seed varieties as they are tolerant to drought conditions and low nitrogen in the soil. Early maturing varieties include KATCB,DH01 to DH10,WS102,PH1, PAN 4M, WS204,WH003,WH101,WH105,SC DUMA,MH04, and SC PUNDA MILIA.
|Farmers planting in Mlima Meza area of Sipili, Laikipia West|
Medium attitude varieties are also ideal in the County as they take 4-5 months to mature. The varieties include WH507, WH504, WH505, KH500-33A, KH500-31A, KH500-49A, H624, H512 to H526, DK8031, WE1101, PAN 7M, and PHB30G19.
He noted that although most farmers in Ol-Moran Ward prefer the high altitude varieties like H614, H6213, H626, H629, H628, and H6218, the varieties are not ideal for late planting as they take up to six months to mature.
“Many farmers usually plant the wrong seed varieties ending up with poor yields. Farmers should always seek for advice from agricultural officers when they are not sure of the varieties to plant. Quality of seed is paramount for successful crop production,” said Mr. Kamau.
According to the Kenya Meteorological Services, forecast for Laikipia County indicates that Igwamiti, Marmanet, Githiga, Sosian, Salama, Segera, Ngobit, Nanyuki, Thingithu, and Ol-Moran will receive between 114-227 mm, which is below normal rainfall. Mukogondo West and Umande prediction indicates that the areas will receive normal rainfall at 228-341 mm, while Tigithi and Mukogondo East will receive between 342-456 mm, which is normal rainfall. Rumuruti area will receive the lowest rainfall at 1-113 mm.
The Kenya Meteorological Services forecast had also indicated cessation of rainfall in most parts of Laikipia apart from Igwamiti to be end of May.
He said that the significant climate variability in the ward has huge implications on maize yields and food security. He said that the number of rainy days has reduced and it is important for farmers to adopt appropriate water harvesting technologies.
“We need to develop adaptation strategies and increase awareness of climate change and its impacts on agriculture, and develop appropriate mitigation measures to enhance resilience maize production,” said Mr. Kamau.
He noted that unlike other seasons the changing weather pattern prevented most farmers from planting early. Early planting usually helps to ensure harvesting of crops before depletion of soil moisture, as there will be less water loss by evaporation. It will also ensure there is better response to fertilizer.