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Erratic rains put farmers in an awkward position

Delayed rains have put farmers in Trans Nzoia County in an awkward position leaving them confused and hopeless.

At the same time, maize farmers who planted with the first rains are counting losses as germination failed by almost 60 percent.

The situation has put farmers in a state of hopelessness as those who planted with the first rains will be forced to replant on the onset of rains.

In an interview at Birunda in Saboti Sub County, one of the large scale seed farmers Mr. Peter Kutit told KNA that 200 out of the 400 acres he planted with the first rains did not germinate.

He attributed poor germination to lack of rains saying he had done dry planting as he has always done in the past years but was disappointed when the rains stopped unexpectedly.

He expressed his disappointment with the weather patterns which he said had adversely affected farmers.

“We are no longer sure with the weather reports being given by the weather man and we even do not know whether to start preparing the fields again or not,” he said.

“The cost of production has gone up by 100 percent because we have to replant. We expected rains early, we had prepared land with huge costs of fertilizer but unfortunately the rains have not come and a lot of crops have not germinated,” he said at his Birunda village home.

According to another large scale farmer William Koros, from Endebess, production of maize was going to drop due to the unpredictable weather.

“You see the March/April/May rains which have been giving us a base for our planting for many years has failed us and we are not sure if the next rain season will be promising,” he said.
Koros also complained that most farmers sold the maize at a throw away price and bought fertilizer whose prices had gone up and they may not be able to replant which he said will affect production.

According to Koros, the only way farmers can now survive is to embrace diversification adding that he is going to venture into coffee and hay production.

Kenya Seed Company which is the largest seed producer in the country has also raised a red flag over unpredictable rains.
The company’s managing director Asariah Soi, told KNA that the country was staring at a very difficult situation this year as far as crop production is concerned due to failed rains.

“It is a concern for us since we control 75 percent of seeds. This means we have a big burden to avail seeds to farmers next year despite the failed rains,” he said.

He said that out of 30,000 acres targeted for seed this year only 14,000 had been planted.

Soi said farmers should now prepare to venture into irrigation and that the government should also plan to venture into irrigation infrastructure.

He also encouraged farmers to go for crop insurance that will cushion them against crop failure.
Most farmers in Trans Nzoia do dry planting beginning March with hopes of getting rains around March 15 but this year has been challenging as the expected above normal rains have failed.

By Pauline Ikanda

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