Cotton farmers in Rarieda Sub-County have decried heavy losses estimated at over Sh 25 million after monkeys destroyed approximately 500 acres of cotton plantation in the region.
According to Harrison Odhiambo an officer from the fibre crop directorate in-charge of cotton farming in the sub-county, the monkeys have invaded the farms over the last 14 days leaving the farmers staring at huge losses.
“From each acre the directorate estimates that a farmer can earn approximately Sh 50, 000 up from the previous Sh 15,000 they used to earn using traditional farming methods and seed. Therefore, we are looking at a loss of over Sh 25 million for farmers in the region,” said the officer.
Odhiambo said the monkeys have been feeding on cotton balls hence destroying the crops leaving efforts by the government to revive cotton farming in the region in jeopardy.
“The government has invested heavily in reviving cotton farming in the region by providing free hybrid seed of BT cotton to farmers which was expected to increase cotton production in the area by 30 percent but this is now under enormous threat,” Odhiambo stated.
He revealed that currently about six thousand acres of land in Rarieda sub county is under cotton hence the need for concerted efforts by stakeholders to end the monkey menace.
Odhiambo further disclosed that Rachar and Kokwiri sub-locations in west Uyoma location are the worst hit by the monkey invasion and called on the local community together with local administrators to join hands and devise measures of keeping the wild animals away from the farms.
“Cotton is one of the cash crops identified by the government to spur economic growth in the country and therefore chiefs, the county commissioner and elected leaders should mobilize the local community to find a lasting solution to the monkey menace,” Odhiambo said.
Local farmers Jane Nyambuoro, Simon Okore and Fredrick Obange whose farms were destroyed in Arongo village; Rachar Sub location have appealed to the government to come to their aid saying the cash crop which has been destroyed is their only source of livelihood.
Speaking to KNA on phone Siaya County Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) warden Mr. Joseph Nyongesa confirmed that they have already received complaints from farmers in Rarieda Sub County in connection with the monkeys that have destroyed cotton plants.
Nyongesa however disputed the number of acreage destroyed saying their own assessment shows less than 200 acres have been destroyed.
He revealed that farmers whose crops have been destroyed by the monkeys will not be compensated since KWS degazetted compensation of crop destruction by monkeys in January 2019.
The KWS warden advised the farmers not to harm the animals but instead inform his office to take appropriate action.
By Brian Ondeng’