Crop, Livestock and Fish Production
The main crops grown in Kakamega County are sugarcane, maize, beans, cassava, finger millet, sweet potatoes, bananas, tomatoes, tea and sorghum. Maize meal forms the staple food for the county. Maize and sugarcane are generally grown in large scale while beans, millets and sorghum are grown on small scales on the other hand maize, tea and sugarcane are the main cash crops grown in the County.
There is need to diversify agriculture, grow high value crops and engage in value addition to boost incomes.
The total acreage under food crops is 114,053.6 Ha while the land under cash crops is 141,429.7 Ha. The main cash crop is sugarcane while the main food crop is maize. The total hecterage under food crops and cash crops is 255,483.30. The usage of land among the sub-counties is mainly driven by the land fertility and the need to make land an enterprise for generating family house hold incomes.
There is need to formulate policies that boost food security through optimal land use.
The average farm size in the County is 1.5 acres for small scale holders while large scale holders have an average of 10 acres. However land holding tends to be bigger in the larger Lugari Sub-counties as compared to the larger Kakamega Sub-Counties.
This situation can be attributed to the small parcels of land in the county and also due to the high population density.There is need to enhance optimal utilization of the existing farmlands through use of modern technologies for improved production.The county should formulate policies to discourage hoarding of idle land.
The main storage facilities in the County are the traditionally made granaries which are used by a greater percentage of the population.There are four existing cereal Depots in Lugari, Malava, Lurambi and Butere. The farm produce sometimes go bad due to inadequate storage facilities in the County with great challenges arising from the poor handling of the post harvest storage. Although the government storage facilities offer private storage services, very few farmers are able to use this service due lack of knowledge and inability to transport their produce to these facilities. This may be attributed to the low income levels and that most of the farm produce is mainly for subsistence to a large number of households.
Farmers should be encouraged to utilise the existing depots to add time utility to their produce.More improved modern facilities should be established in areas far from the existing silos.Accessibility to these silos should be enhanced. Better distribution systems need to be established.
The livestock bred in the County is cattle; which is being reared by 53.2 percent of the population. Another 22.2 percent, 11.2 percent, and 1.7 percent of the population rear sheep, goats and pigs respectively. Chicken rearing is pre-dominant with 92 per cent of the households keeping them while 0.7 per cent keeps donkeys. About 19.15million litres of milk are produced annually while 364,000kg of beef is also produced annually.
There is need to encourage dairy farming and upgrade the local breeds to improve quality and quantity of milk through one dairy cow per household policy and access to modern breeding methods.Modern methods of livestock keeping should be encouraged to enhance production and raise farmer incomes.Rearing of small ruminants and bee keeping should be encouraged to raise farmer incomes.
Animal Feeds production ventures
The county is predominantly a crop farming economy with livestock farming taking a small portion of the available arable land. However, with the increasing land demarcation from population pressure, there is need to improve on animal feeding style. Through ministry of Livestock and veterinary service, the government has embarked in hay/pasture improvement. Livestock production department is also engaged in various extension services where farmers are trained on animal feeds.
The fisheries subsector plays an important role in the national economy providing economic support to the population. Aquaculture is the; most important fisheries development in the county. It has mainly been carried out at subsistence level with a few commercial fish farm enterprises. It can easily be integrated into household farming systems. The aquaculture subsector in the county has enormous potential. The county has many water sources and ideal temperatures for warm water aquaculture. Aquaculture can contribute to the economy of the county by creating employment, earning income, reducing poverty and supporting food security. Demand for fish is rising owing to the growing population and the changing feeding habits of the people as they move towards living, healthy living. With its cholesterol – free white meat, fish offers the best nutrition profile for humans.
Aquaculture is the only sustainable source of fish and has great potential of growth in the county mainly due to the presence of a wide variety of water sources such as rivers, springs, dams and rainfall. In addition, most of the land that is suitable for other agricultural activities is also suitable; for aquaculture as are swampy and marshy areas. Currently the county Ksh. 6,300 farmers with 6,900 fish ponds producing 700,000 kgs of fish valued at Ksh.140 million.
Commercial aquaculture enterprises are increasing. This is a parading shift from subsistence aquaculture, which has been practiced in the county over the years. Due to aggressive extension, aquaculture has increased fourfold over a short time. Aquaculture is the fastest growing production subsector in the county deserving due attention and support.
The main constraints facing the development of aquaculture include: inadequate support to aquaculture infrastructure such as fish hatcheries, poor quality fish seed and feed, inadequate hygenetary provision, inadequate market information and marketing uncertainties, limited aquaculture research, inadequate provision of extension services, poor link between production and marketing, lack of aquaculture extension guidelines and lack of baseline data for aquaculture investment.