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The guarantee of dryers excites farmers

Small-scale farmers in Nakuru County have commended the government for the pledge and assurance of cereal driers during the current maize harvesting season, which has commenced in some areas and may go on up to November in the county.

Interviewed by KNA today, chairman of small-scale farmers Bernard Mwenje said dryers are one thing that cereal farmers have always pleaded and begged for from all the subsequent governments since independence, and they are excited that it will soon be accomplished by Dr. President William Ruto.

He noted that it was difficult for anyone who has never farmed maize to appreciate the struggles and mayhem that farmers go through during the harvest season, which unfortunately falls during the short rain season. And yet, the maize is supported to achieve 13 percent moisture to avoid aflatoxins.

“When harvested maize gets rained on at the farm, at least 15 percent gets lost even before they are moved, and once at the homestead, before they are shelled and dried, another 15 percent gets lost. It’s a disheartening experience. It’s easy to pull out tears from anyone.”

A maize Sheller being polished up by a jua kali artisan in readiness for the harvest.

However, he noted that the National Cereal Produce Board (NCPB) has always had dryers. Unfortunately, they were designed for large quantities of over 10,000 kg, which the majority of small-scale farmers can’t attain. So, they were only useful for large-scale farmers.

The Director for Agriculture in the county, Fredrick Owino, said the only small-scale dryer that the county had broke down five years ago and the lack of expertise to repair it has denied the cereal farmers the much-required service. He added that the county anticipates a bumper harvest.

Mwenje noted that the drying of maize on tarmac roads and every other available space was the farmers’ tussle to save the maize from rotting and germinating. Adding that the cost of sh. 100 per 90kg that the casuals charged was quiet, and in most cases, there was an added cost of storage plus the material used to spread out the maize.

Additionally, he said the Jua Kali sector has tried to make dryers, but it hasn’t been fruitful. However, they managed to make the maize sheller, which has been of great help to the farmers since it enables them to only carry the cereals home minus the maize cob. That makes it lighter and more cost-effective for transportation.

But the hustlers, who have been drying the maize at Sh100 per 90 kg, are not amused at all. John Mbutia, who has dried maize for farmers in the county for a long time, is sad that their jobs would be snapped up by machines, just the same way maize Shellers reduced their earnings.

By Veronica Bosibori

 

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