Maize farmers unwilling to try alternative crops, says Koskei
Agriculture Secretary Felix Koskei (right) jots down Senators' questions at a hearing of the Senate's Committee on Agriculture at the KICC in Nairobi May 28, 2013. Mr Koskei said maize farmers are reluctant to heed a government directive to skip a planting season due to a viral disease that has been destroying the crop in the North and South Rift regions. The maize lethal nechrosis disease, which surfaced in September 2011 has destroyed 700,000 bags of maize valued at Sh2 billion.
“I interviewed one farmer in Narok who told me that since he was born, he has been growing maize. And even if there’s a problem, the farmer told me, he will have to plant maize so that people know he planted maize,” Mr Koskei told the MPs at a meeting in Nairobi’s Kenyatta International Conference Centre.
His major beef with the farmers is that although they have information, they know how devastating the disease is, yet when the government is offering solutions to ensure they don’t make losses, the farmers “are unwilling to change”. “We need to change the mindset of our people.
People don’t accept because it is their staple food, and because it is a means of social standing. If you say you have 20 acres of maize in Bomet, another will say they have five acres.
If you say, you have two acres of cassava, people will wonder what you are talking about," said the Cabinet secretary. He said the maize disease –maize lethal nechrosis disease—which surfaced in September 2011 destroyed 700,000 bags of maize valued at Sh2 billion.
That, the Cabinet Secretary said was two per cent of the country’s annual production.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at The Daily Nation