Wheat farmers face huge losses over heavy rains
Wilson Maiyo stares at the skies hoping the rain stops so that he can harvest the wheat on his farm in Chepkoilel, Uasin Gishu county.
He is worried that his crop is beginning to turn black but he cannot harvest it because of the heavy rains that have been pounding the region in the past one month.
Farmers normally start to harvest their wheat in early October, but the situation is different this year because of the weather conditions.
Maiyo is among hundreds of farmers in the North Rift region staring at huge loses because of the heavy rains that have frustrated harvesting.
Maiyo says the wet conditions make it difficult to combine harvesters to access farms.
“No one is willing to lease out their combine harvester to farmers because even the roads leading to the farms have been rendered impassable by the heavy rains,” he told People Daily.
He says that he was expecting to harvest 3,000 bags of wheat from is 100-acre land this season but fears he might not hit the target due to the rains.
Maurice Chepkonga, a farmer in Turbo sub-county said several acres of wheat that were ready for harvest had been destroyed.
“We are hoping the rains will subside to enable us to harvest our wheat,” said Chepkonga.
He said the most affected were farmers in large-scale wheat farming areas of Moiben, Soy, Turbo and Ainabkoi.
Gladyce Chepkorir, a farmer in Moi’s Bridge said the rains had interfered with the harvesting of maize and wheat.
“We used to harvest and dry our wheat early October but due to heavy rainfall that has been pounding the region for the past one month, we are unable to do anything,” she said.
She appealed to the government, through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), to provide farmers with mobile driers at subsidised rates.
But NCPB North Rift regional manager Gilbert Rotich said that while the driers will be made available, the current rates will apply.
“The board is charging at the rate of Sh40 per one per cent of moisture content but we can discuss the matter with farmers and agree,” he said.
Some maize farmers want NCPB to provide the driers for free, saying they are likely to lose most of their crop if they do not access driers.
“Tonnes of maize might go to waste if we do not access dryers. There’s also the danger of aflatoxin,” said Ernest Tormoi, a farmer from Moi’s Bridge in Uasin Gishu.
Farmers also want to store their produce in NCPB stores free of charge, saying it would cut post-harvest losses and wastage.