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Farming affected by Covid-19 related restrictions

Agricultural activities have been adversely affected in Likuyani and Lugari sub counties following the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country.
A spot check by KNA has established that majority of the peasant farmers are unable to meet the costs and are yet to plant maize on their farms, while a few who managed buy seeds have planted without fertilizer.
Susy Khakali, a farmer in Likuyani, says most of the peasants farmers in the area are facing financial constraint and cannot afford to purchase farm inputs.
She said majority of them depended on casual labor by working for large scale farmers in the area so that they could get money to purchase seeds and fertilizer, but with the outbreak of the Covid-19 large scale farmers are not allowing huge number of laborers on their farm in line with social distancing directive to curb the spread of coronavirus.
Khakali says not only are they unable to plant their farms but also putting food on table is also another problem facing peasant farmers in the region.
“Most of these peasant farmers live from hand to mouth and with the current situation it is not only a problem for them to buy farm inputs but they are also facing a challenge to get food,” said the farmer.
She said for few larger scale farmers who are offering opportunity to laborers are strictly adhering to government directive that require them to put on masks which she say it was proving costly to the low earners.
Khakali’s sentiments were echoed by her Lugari counterpart Alice Ombima who said some of the farmers rely on their children working in various part of the country but with the outbreak of the coronavirus that has led to closure of many work places, they have not been able to receive any support.
“Some of the farmers were depending on their sons and daughters to help them plough their farms and even buy farm inputs,” she stated.
She added that with the dwindling economy even the large scale farmers have been unable to pay laborers working on their farm.
Despite the fact that the county government of Kakamega was giving seeds at a subsidized price, a spot check in various stores and agricultural offices have revealed that there are still hundreds of unpurchased bags of fertilizers compared to previous years where the supply has never been enough thus a clear indication that more farmers have not been able to buy fertilizer this year.
The two have appealed for the government’s intervention and support for farmers by giving inputs, saying if the current situation is not checked millions of Kenyans are faced with starvation once the fight again the disease is over.
They work with Groots Kenya, a national movement of grassroots women led community based organization and Self Help Group charged with facilitation of grassroots women to effectively engagement in development through movement building, leadership and advocacy trying to sensitize and empower the farmers to put up kitchen gardens to help them.
“We are encouraging farmers that though the situation is tough they should at least plant something to feed their families,” said Ombima.
By Sammy Mwibanda

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