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Agronomist notebook: How to manage effects of floods on your farm

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By ANN MACHARIA
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With the ongoing heavy rains across the country, farmers are among the worst affected.

To begin with, most farms are currently flooded with rainwater, with the rains damaging crops or washing them away.

Marketing of agricultural products has also become a nightmare as most roads to farms are inaccessible. Some farmers are, therefore, watching as their harvest rots on the farm.

But despite floods being a natural calamity, you can overcome them through proper planning.

During land preparation, consider creating runoff or sediment traps to reduce the likelihood of the farm flooding. This is done by creating channels that direct the water to a harvesting site or a nearby water source.

While creating the channels, avoid directing the water to the road as this increases erosion of the soil.

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If your area is prone to flooding, consider making beds on which you grow your crops as this will help prevent the plants from being washed away.

As a mitigation measure, always have an appropriate plan to prepare the land before heavy rains begin. However, this can be problematic as the rains have become unpredictable.

Nevertheless, it is ideal to farm before heavy rains start since tractor implements can’t work on muddy land. Also, working on wet soil results in formation of hardpans, making operations difficult.

Planting crops and trees around the farm helps to reduce the impact of soil erosion since the latter holds the soil particles together.

Crops that form a groundcover such as sweet potatoes, desmodium, and grass should also be grown on bare grounds to minimise soil erosion.

Terraces can be used to reduce the steepness of a hillside and retain the surface water that would otherwise run off the sloping land.

Contour farming along a slopy land also helps to control soil erosion. This involves planting crops on nearly the same level of elevation.

The effectiveness of this technique varies from one region to the other but helps to retain the soil moisture and reduce the soil erosion.

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Farmers should also focus on having vegetation on waterways to help curb the erosive force of runoff. The vegetation helps absorb water’s destructive energy, thus preventing soil erosion and gully formation.

In waterlogged areas, one should consider planting trees such as eucalyptus that require a lot of water.

Consider strip cropping, which involves cultivating a field partitioned into long, narrow alternated strips. This method is used where the slope is too steep to prevent soil erosion.

The crops to be planted include wheat and other forages which are alternated with strips of row crop such as soybeans.

One should relocate livestock to a higher ground to prevent them for being washed away by floods. Farm machinery should also be kept at high levels under a shed to ensure they remain safe.

Farm waste such as chemical bottles should be well-disposed of to prevent contamination of rivers.

Farm produce and inputs should be placed in areas above floodwater level. Normally, when there is flooding and soil erosion, leaching of nutrients occurs, which makes the plant show some deficiency symptoms.

To prevent this, farmers must spray their crops with foliar fertiliser as the plants absorb the nutrients through the leaves.

While spraying, the foliar should be mixed with a sticky substance so that it is not washed away by the raindrops before the plant takes up the nutrients. The same case applies while spraying fungicides and pesticides.

Farmers should be on the lookout for pests and diseases likely to affect their crops.

For instance, the spread of fungal diseases is very high during this rainy season. Tomatoes have profoundly been affected by early and late blight.

In this case, prevent the occurrence of the disease by ensuring that you observe all the farm hygiene practices and ensure you spray fungicides to prevent the occurrence of the diseases.

Affected leaves should also be removed and properly disposed of to prevent the spread of the disease.

For greenhouses, the drainage systems should be well managed by creating proper channels as surface runoff could result in the entry of pathogens from the nearby fields.

This would probably transmit soil-borne diseases such as fusarium and bacterial wilt into the greenhouse.

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World Bank pushes G-20 to extend debt relief to 2021

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World Bank Group President David Malpass has urged the Group of 20 rich countries to extend the time frame of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative(DSSI) through the end of 2021, calling it one of the key factors in strengthening global recovery.

“I urge you to extend the time frame of the DSSI through the end of 2021 and commit to giving the initiative as broad a scope as possible,” said Malpass.

He made these remarks at last week’s virtual G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting.

The World Bank Chief said the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the deepest global recession in decades and what may turn out to be one of the most unequal in terms of impact.

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People in developing countries are particularly hard hit by capital outflows, declines in remittances, the collapse of informal labor markets, and social safety nets that are much less robust than in the advanced economies.

For the poorest countries, poverty is rising rapidly, median incomes are falling and growth is deeply negative.

Debt burdens, already unsustainable for many countries, are rising to crisis levels.

“The situation in developing countries is increasingly desperate. Time is short. We need to take action quickly on debt suspension, debt reduction, debt resolution mechanisms and debt transparency,” said Malpass.

ALSO READ:Global Economy Plunges into Worst Recession – World Bank

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Kenya’s Central Bank Drafts New Laws to Regulate Non-Bank Digital Loans

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The Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) will regulate interest rates charged on mobile loans by digital lending platforms if amendments on the Central bank of Kenya Act pass to law. The amendments will require digital lenders to seek approval from CBK before launching new products or changing interest rates on loans among other charges, just like commercial banks.

“The principal objective of this bill is to amend the Central bank of Kenya Act to regulate the conduct of providers of digital financial products and services,” reads a notice on the bill. “CBK will have an obligation of ensuring that there is fair and non-discriminatory marketplace access to credit.”

According to Business Daily, the legislation will also enable the Central Bank to monitor non-performing loans, capping the limit at not twice the amount of the defaulted loan while protecting consumers from predatory lending by digital loan platforms.

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Tighter Reins on Platforms for Mobile Loans

The legislation will boost efforts to protect customers, building upon a previous gazette notice that blocked lenders from blacklisting non-performing loans below Ksh 1000. The CBK also withdrew submissions of unregulated mobile loan platforms into Credit Reference Bureau. The withdrawal came after complaints of misuse over data in the Credit Information Sharing (CIS) System available for lenders.

Last year, Kenya had over 49 platforms providing mobile loans, taking advantage of regulation gaps to charge obscene rates as high as 150% a year. While most platforms allow borrowers to prepay within a month, creditors still pay the full amount plus interest.

Amendments in the CBK Act will help shield consumers from high-interest rates as well as offer transparency on terms of digital loans.

SEE ALSO: Central Bank Unveils Measures to Tame Unregulated Digital Lenders

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Scope Markets Kenya customers to have instant access to global financial markets

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NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 20 – Clients trading through the Scope Markets Kenya trading platform will get instant access to global financial markets and wider investment options. 

This follows the launch of a new Scope Markets app, available on both the Google PlayStore and IOS Apple Store.

The Scope Markets app offers clients over 500 investment opportunities across global financial markets.

The Scope Markets app has a brand new user interface that is very user friendly, following feedback from customers.

The application offers real-time quotes; newsfeeds; research facilities, and a chat feature which enables a customer to make direct contact with the Customer Service Team during trading days (Monday to Friday).

The platform also offers an enhanced client interface including catering for those who trade at night.

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The client will get instant access to several asset classes in the global financial markets including; Single Stocks CFDs (US, UK, EU) such as Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, BP, Carrefour;  Indices (Nasdaq, FTSE UK), Metals (Gold, Silver); Currencies (60+ Pairs), Commodities (Oil, Natural Gas).

The launch is part of Scope Markets Kenya strategy of enriching the customer experience while offering clients access to global trading opportunities.

Scope Markets Kenya CEO, Kevin Ng’ang’a observed, “the Sope Markets app is very easy to use especially when executing trades. Customers are at the heart of everything we do. We designed the Scope Markets app with the customer experience in mind as we seek to respond to feedback from our customers.”

He added that enhancing the client experience builds upon the robust trading platform, Meta Trader 5, unveiled in 2019, enabling Scope Markets Kenya to broaden the asset classes available on the trading platform.

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