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Farmers want special kitty to cushion flood victims

The Kenya farmers’ federation, Garissa branch is calling on Garissa county assembly to set aside a special kitty to cushion over 500 group farms destroyed by floods.
The farmers through their national chair Dubat Amey said that the ongoing floods have already washed away crops that were ready for harvesting and irrigation equipment’s rendering them destitute.
According to the farmers who are yet to recover from last year’s December floods and the recent desert locusts’ invasions, the flood and drought cycles that used to take place after every 10 years have now changed and now recur after every 3 months.
He said that river Tana has burst its banks for the 3rd time within 24 months destroying the farmers’ only source of livelihoods.
“Majority of these farmers are yet to recover from last year’s flood and they were still battling with the desert locusts’ invasion when the Corona virus and the current floods struck,” Amey said.
“If the county assembly does not appropriate funds to cushion the farmers, majority of them will never go back to farming,” he added.
Among the crops grown on the irrigation farms along the river Tana in Garissa, Fafi and Balambala sub counties include mangoes, lemons tomatoes, onions, pawpaw, avocadoes and bananas.
Amey welcomed the move by Garissa MCAs to prevail upon the senate to grill energy CS Charles Keter over frequent flooding in the county and in neighbouring Tana River that they now blame on spillage from the KenGen owned Masinga dam.
He said this was a long term solution but there was need to cushion the farmers in the short term.
“Time has come for our leaders to move from mere talk and come up with immediate solutions that will have direct impact on our farmers who are reeling from the effects of floods,” he added.
Hasan Yarrow the chairman of the group farms said that while it was important for the county to continue focusing most of its energy and resources towards stopping the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic, farmers who have been affected equally need assistance.
Yarrow said that time has come for the flood menace to be addressed compressively and long term solutions arrived at noting that as it stands, more farmers were opting out of farming due the perennial losses.
“We have been encouraging our people to shift from livestock keeping to farming, something that they had started embracing. I know of 100 farmers who have completely given up because of the floods,” Yarrow said.
“KenGen should take the blame for releasing excess waters from the Masinga dam that keep on destroying our only source of livelihood,” he added.
By Jacob Songok

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