By Bedah Mengo NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Hundreds of farmers across Kenya are counting
losses as heavy rains render roads impassable, making it
difficult for them to sell their produce.
The farmers are
mainly those growing fresh produce like potatoes, maize, fruits
like mangoes, tomatoes, vegetables and keeping livestock that
includes dairy cows.
Most farming in the
East African nation takes place in the rural areas where
majority of the roads are not tarmacked.
it rains heavily as it is happening now, the roads get muddy and
become impassable for vehicles, carts and even animals that are
used to transport farm produce.
A majority of
farmers are currently stuck with their produce on the farm, with
most of it like tomatoes and fruits rotting.
The worst-hit areas
are those in western Kenya and in breadbasket regions of the
Rift Valley, where the main economic activity is farming.
Simon Kibowen, a
potato farmer in Kuresoi in Nakuru, is one among the hundreds of
farmers wishing the ongoing rains would cease, albeit for a few
“I have bags of
potatoes in my house and another produce is rotting on the farm
because buyers cannot reach me,” he said Wednesday.
Kibowen’s farm is
located in the interior of the agriculturally rich region and
all the roads, as in many other rural areas, are covered in
black cotton soil.
come with lorries to my farm to buy the produce but right now
the vehicles are 20 km away at the trading centre. If I want to
sell to them, I must ferry the produce there,” he said.
“In the last two
weeks I have been able to sell two bags of potatoes weighing 110
kg each at 12 U.S. dollars each after I hired a donkey and
ferried the produce to the centre. But despite all the hustle, I
only made 3 dollars profit. It was not worth it,” he said,
noting that he has about 40 bags left.
Prices of the
produce have declined to a low of 1,000 dollars per bag as
traders buy from desperate farmers seeking to avoid losses.
In Elgeyo Marakwet,
a region where people cultivate oranges and mangoes, farmers are
hugely frustrated as their produce rots due to bad roads.
As in other parts of
rural Kenya, the roads leading to farms in the remote area have
become impassable, with vehicles ferrying farm produce getting
stuck in the mud.
“This is usually the
time most farmers start harvesting their mangoes but they cannot
reach the market that include Nairobi. Several lorries that had
come to ferry the produce to Nairobi are stuck in the region,”
said Grace Najamo, a teacher in the area, who also farms
Najamo noted that
mangoes are now going for as low as 0.01 dollars as farmers have
no market. In Nairobi, the mangoes would fetch about 0.08
According to the
Meteorological Department, much of Kenya is experiencing
enhanced rainfall driven by warmer than average Sea Surface
Temperatures over the western Equatorial Indian Ocean adjacent
to the East African coastline.
In the last few
days, the department noted in its latest forecast that most
parts of the country continue to receive rainfall with
significant amounts mainly being reported in the breadbasket
area of the Rift Valley.
The total amount of
rainfall registered in most parts of the country is between 50
and 100 ml, which is above normal.
impassable roads, the rains have come with pests, diseases and
death, messing up farmers. Livestock farmers, according to the
Kenya Red Cross, have lost up to 5,000 head of cattle due to
For those growing
crops, pests and diseases have risen due to the change of
weather. Among the worst affected crops are tomatoes.
“I have lost about
half-acre of tomatoes to blight due to the ongoing rains. I
would spray chemicals and the rains would wash it away making it
difficult to control the cold season disease,” said Mathews
Ngari, a farmer in Kitengela, Kajiado.
Bernard Moina, an
agricultural officer in Kitale, western Kenya, noted that many
farmers yearn for rains so that they can grow crops or pasture
but they bring a myriad of challenges.
“Rains are a source
of many diseases and pests as the surface runoff carries them
from one place to another. For instance, during the rainy
season, bacterial wilt disease that affects potatoes, capsicum
and tomatoes, among other crops, becomes prevalent because water
carries it from one farm to another,” he said.
Moina noted that
farmers are losing their produce due to poor roads because they
have no cold chain facilities.