North Rift farmers face huge losses as maize rot in fields
HARVEST: Maize farmers in the North Rift have started recording huge losses because of the heavy rains.
The grains in the farms and those which have already been harvested are rotting as farms remain inaccessible and due to poor or lack of adequate storage.
“We will lose a lot if it continues to rain. This rain is unusual because long rains end in early September every year.
Most maize have not been harvested and those already in our homes have not been spared because of lack of storage,” said John Kolum, a large- scale farmer in Moi’s Bridge, Uasin Gishu county.
He said yesterday that the absence of good prices is compounding the problem, observing that if prices were reasonable, most farmers would have sold them.
“If prices were good, those who have already harvested would have sold them,” he said and added that farmers have been left on their own by the government which has failed to open National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) to stabilise prices and for storage.
He wondered what became of the Warehouse Receipting System which if it had been implemented, farmers would have stored their produce until prices in the market improved and to avoid post- harvest losses.
Traders and middlemen are buying a 90 kg bag of the grain in the country’s breadbasket at between Sh2,100 and Sh2,000, which farmers say is little compared to the production cost of the same.
The NCPB stores outside Eldoret, farmers said lack functional dryers and asked the government to intervene and install them in all stores and the board management to allow farmers to dry their produce free of charge.
“NCPB stores have been neglected by the government for decades now. Dryers are not working while the silos are leaking.
It’s time to focus more on grains preservation for the country to get out of borrowing for food handouts,” said Ernest Tormoi, an official of the Kenya National Farmers Union, Eldoret branch and a large- scale maize farmer in Ziwa area.
This season, he said, North Rift would record the lowest harvest in the recent years because of poor seeds, post harvest losses and ill preparation of seed beds early.