Farmers in Laikipia County have decried the invasion of their farms by a stubborn weed.
The farmers in Marmanet, Githiga, Salama, Ol Moran, and Rumuruti wards are now a worried lot after the dalmatian toadflax weed invaded their maize and wheat farms, occasioning them huge losses.
The weed, characterised by purple flowers, has dominated many farms, with farmers attributing it to poor farm practices and lack of effective herbicides to get rid of it from their farms.
According to the farmers who had no standard name for the weed (they referred to it as Gichini, translated as ‘pricky’), failure to tame the weed at a tender stage resulted in low yields, since the weeds were dominant.
“If the tractor plates are not washed well after the last plough, then the next farm is bound to get the weed. It is hard to control it once a farmer plants his maize or wheat. The weed takes up most of the nutrients leading to a handful harvest,” said Mr Samuel Kariuki, a farmer at Marmanet area.
He said that the dry season was not a hindrance to the weeds' growth as most farms had dazzling purple-flowered plants, despite the dry spell.
“The weed outgrows the crops in the farms as it grows twice as fast as the crops. We are now forced to buy strong herbicides to kill the weeds and their roots, which in turn damage crops,” noted Mr Gabriel Kipkemboi, another farmer.
The farmers have since called on the County Government to send extension officers to advise them what affordable herbicides were available to clear the weed.
"We need urgent solutions to eliminate the weed. The plant, which has dominated most of our farms, has proved to be resistant to herbicides," said Ms Agnes Wambui.