Tray seed technology is a new method of preventing pests and diseases in crops. Tray farming has become a norm for many farmers in various parts of the country due to its ability to reduce pests and diseases, require low soil moisture for seed germination, and address issues of toxic soil and soil-borne diseases.
In Kenya, a significant challenge to food security includes the lack of satisfactory seeds, toxic soil, rodents, taxes, and the high cost of fertilizer, posing top challenges for farmers. Eric Maina Kamau from Juja explains how this technology has worked for him on his farm. “I started farming in Juja after unsuccessfully securing a job through several applications. I chose farming for self-employment, which led me to use tray nurseries for seedling propagation in my two greenhouses,” he says.
Eric practices a variety of crops, including vegetables like sukuma wiki (kales), cabbages, spinach, indigenous varieties like managu, and fruits like passion fruits and strawberries. Agriculture is a backbone of Kenya, and by 2050, the population is projected to reach about 80 million. Eric encourages people to engage in farming as a source of employment and food for the growing population.
In Taita Taveta County, farmers adopt tray farming, similar to Eric, to overcome challenges such as soil-borne diseases, insufficient rainfall, lack of satisfactory seeds, and high transportation costs. Fayanzi Joto, a farmer in the county, explains, “Transporting seedlings from places like Naivasha and Thika requires money, which is costly, and some seedlings may die or get damaged in transit. Since I started tray farming, costs have reduced, and I sell my nursery seedlings to nearby farmers.”
According to Joto, tray farming minimizes losses compared to direct farming, as issues like rodents and soil diseases are reduced during harvesting. “When transplanting seedlings, they come out with their full soil from the tray, enabling them to grow faster without waiting to adapt to new soil and soil nutrients. The soil they come with continues supplying required nutrition before the plant adapts to the new soil,” Joto explains.
Joto and Eric advise farmers to ensure they use satisfactory seeds and chemicals to treat their soil, preventing soil-borne diseases that can affect their crops. Experts also emphasize the importance of using quality seeds, especially in the face of climate change. Eric welcomes interested farmers to contact him for produce through Zion Seedlings at 0757146679 or 0724471075, located in Juja along Juja Farm Road.
Report by Jesse Abisheck