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Rice farmers stare at empty fields as drought bites

More than 200 rice farmers in Bunyala Sub County are staring at great loses as drought ravages the area.

The 250 farmers say the initial challenge was that of a broken pump but this has escalated to shortage of water.

According to Hellen Nabalayo, a seasonal rice farmer in the area, the National Irrigation authority had encouraged them to continue with farming activities as they look for spare parts for the water pump.

“We were later told that water levels in River Nzoia had drastically reduced,” she said adding that they are losing hope as farmers due to the situation.

Nabalayo lamented that most of the farmers had applied fertilizer to their crops adding that more than 108 acres of the crop is likely to go to waste. “Some of the farmers had leased parcels of land coupled with high cost of labour only to be failed by water shortage,” she lamented.

She asked the government through the National Irrigation Authority to come to their aid by ensuring that the water pumps are repaired. “We are asking the government to provide farmers with seeds and fertilizer during the planting seasons too,” she said.

Luciano Bwire from Rwambwa /Mudembi Irrigation areas said that farmers had banked all their hopes in the paddy fields but they are now facing a great challenge of water.

Bwire added that a section of the paddy was already affected by the yellow moto virus disease due to shortage of water.

The farmers are now appealing to the County Government of Busia to compensate them for the loses since a number of them had secured loans for their farming activities.

Bunyala Irrigation Scheme Manager Engineer Edwin Manyonge confirmed that the National Irrigation Authority (NIA) is aware of the plight of the famers.

Manyonge said that the situation is not a crisis and NIA has already begun the process of raisingthe  water level using gurney bags so that the water pumps are covered.

“We started pumping water yesterday but we have reduced the pumping hours to avoid overheating the pumps,” he said adding that they have reduced the pumping hours to two.

He further said that his team is using smaller water pumps in order to reach the paddy fields that are far away from the river.

The officer blamed the situation on the dry spell adding that River Nzoia has experienced the lowest level of which has never been seen before.

Manyonge assured farmers that the situation was not a crisis explaining that their crops can still be salvaged because they were still at the young stage.

By Salome Alwanda











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