Heavy rains brighten food security prospects in Kenya amid COVID-19 fight

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2020 00:00 |

The rains have caused at least four deaths, displaced hundreds and destroyed property worth millions of shillings across the east African nation.

They also brighten prospects of improved food security in the country in the coming months.

Farmers in East Africa’s biggest economy are a happy lot, with majority rushing to plant various crops to maximize on the rains.

The enhanced rains that are expected to continue until June, according to Stella Aura, the director of the meteorological department, promise better times for farmers as compared to last year when the rains failed.

Some of the crops farmers are currently planting include the staple maize, beans, capsicum, French beans, green grams, potatoes, different kinds of vegetables, fruits.

With the bulk of the country’s agriculture sector being rain-fed, the rains have ushered in a flurry of activities on farms across the country.

“I am planting Boma Rhodes grass currently on my three acres, which I expect will mature in about three months and I will use it to make silage for my cows and store the feeds,” Bernard Kariuki, a dairy farmer in Murang’a, said on Tuesday on phone.

The farmer has eight dairy cows out of which he is milking six and supplies the 100 liters of milk he gets to a processor in the county.

“I had remained with feeds that would last me the next four months, so the rains are really timely. I am happy that they are a little consistent as compared to last year,” he said.

With the rains, east African nation’s livestock farmers are assured of having animal feeds and thus enhanced production of milk and meat in the coming months. This, in turn, assures citizens food during this time when the country is battling coronavirus.

Similarly, the supply of various farm produce in particular vegetables is on the increase as the intensity of the rain grows.

Traditional vegetables, cabbages, and collard greens, commonly known as sukuma wiki in the country, are among those whose prices are declining to the relief of consumers in the East African nation.

“I planted traditional vegetables that include amaranth and nightshade and I am currently harvesting and selling to traders mainly women who are supplying them door to door in Kitale since open-air markets are closed to curb the spread of coronavirus,” said George Ambuche, a farmer in the region, one of Kenya’s breadbaskets.

Farmers in the region situated in western Kenya and others in the Rift Valley are currently planting maize and beans. The former will be harvested from August and the latter from June.

The Kenyan government classifies the food sector as one of the essential services exempted from some restrictions like curfew, with food distributors allowed to move from one region to another and beyond curfew hours to boost food supply.

With the planting of various crops currently ongoing, citizens are assured that prices of food would remain stable and supplies steady in the coming months, which is crucial for the country as it battles COVID-19.

Beatrice Macharia of Growth Point, an agro-consultancy in Kajiado, south of Nairobi, acknowledged that agricultural activities have intensified in the East African nation with the start of the rains.

“These activities are not only helping improve the supply of food but are also creating jobs on the farms at a time when other sectors are sending home workers due to coronavirus,” she said.

However, Macharia warned that a renewed outbreak of locusts in parts of the country remains a threat to the east African nation’s quest to be food secure as the country battles coronavirus. (Xinhua)

More on News