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Floods destroy Sh150m worth of wheat in Narok

Peter Leshan @PeopleDailyKe

Heavy rains, currently being experienced in the country, have turned out to be a curse rather than a blessing to hundreds of wheat farmers in Narok.

Their associations say they are already staring at heavy losses amounting to more than Sh150 million because of flooding in their farms. Stagnant water in the thousands of acres of what was once known as brown gold crop is stunting growth less than two months to harvesting.

Some crops have been swept away while others have turned yellow. The colour change indicates that the nutrients from fertilisers and top dressing agents have been washed out. “Wheat worth more than Sh150 million has been destroyed by floods.

Losses might go up as rains continue to pound. Leeching is also a big problem. Nutrients from fertilisers farmers used in planting and Calcium Ammonium Nitrate for top dressing have been washed out,” says Cereal Growers Association national secretary Lekina Kameto.

The farmers are also unable to contain Fall Army worms because the rain has rendered pesticides ineffective. A tour by People Daily in Ololulunga, Nkorinkori, Nkoben, Nkareta and Melelo wheat fields, showed that rains have even made spraying by tractors difficult.

“Only those with planes are able to spray away the pests. The rest of us just watch as our crops are destroyed,” said John Koini, a farmer in Oloshapani area. In the last two decades, wheat farmers have recorded huge losses due to bad weather, stem rust and now the Fall Army worms menace.

Backdated loans from financial institutions especially Agricultural Finance Corporation have also forced some out of business. “Because of bad weather, pests among others, farmers have been unable to repay loans, forcing some, mostly local farmers out of business,” says Kameto who is also a large scale farmer in Ololulunga, Narok South. Some farms have been sold by financial institutions to recover loans, some dating back to 1999.

This year, a bumper harvest was expected because of early rains but its intensity is worrying. “This year looked promising. The December-January rains eased seed bed preparations.

We are now disappointed because it has overstayed its welcome. If it does not fizzle out in the next two weeks to pave way for crop maturity ahead of late June harvesting, most of us will be counting huge losses,” says Dancan Totona from Olopito near Narok town.

Pesticides and fertiliser supplements prices, he adds, are beyond the reach of small scale farmers especially those who own less than 100 acres. During bumper periods, most harvest between 27 and 30 bags of wheat. In 2016, AFC waived Sh500 million in interest rates for farmers in the area.

In July last year, the government waived Sh2.7 billion that farmers in Narok and Kajiado owe the corporation. The move, farmers say, informed the decision to increase acreages under the crop.

The post Floods destroy Sh150m worth of wheat in Narok appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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