Wheat farmers fear losses due to heavy rains and diseases
Posted Sunday, August 19 2012 at 15:46
Wheat production is expected to fall this season following heavy rains that have interrupted harvesting of the crop in the South Rift region.
Farmers in the North Rift region have also expressed fear of heavy losses following an outbreak of the Ug99 disease and rust.
“The rain has rendered machines immovable on the farms, forcing us to incur extra costs of spraying the crop manually against disease attacks,” said Willy Kipkosgei from Moiben in Uasin Gishu County.
Rift Valley province produced 4.5 million bags of wheat from 127,825 hectares of land last year. Sub-division of large wheat farms into smaller uneconomical plots, inadequate certified seeds, and invasion by migratory birds especially quRift Valley province produced 4.5 million bags of wheat from 127,825 hectares of land last year. Sub-division of large wheat farms into smaller uneconomical plots, inadequate certified seeds, and invasion by migratory birds especially quelea have contributed to a decline in the production of the crop.elea have contributed to a decline in the production of the crop.
“Wheat production is a mechanical process, sub-division of land into smaller units due to population pressure renders cultivation of the crop uneconomical,” said Amos Kiptanui, a farmer from Kaptagat in Elgeyo-Marakwet County.
The expected poor wheat harvest has compounded the farmers’ gloom, coming after the tea crop was hit by hailstorms forcing farmers to prune the crop to avert more losses.
“We expect the crop to recover soon because of the on-going heavy rains which will help leaves to sprout,” said farmer Mathew Lang’at of Chepkumia, Nandi County. Rift Valley province registered increased tea production last season.
The area under the crop in the province is 51,792 acres, producing about 657,688.75 tonnes of green leaf, according to agriculture reports.
On the other hand, farmers in the North Rift region want the Agriculture ministry to hasten investigations into the outbreak of a maize disease that has destroyed thousands of acres of the crop.
The farmers claimed that the government was withholding vital information on the spread of Maize Lethal Necrosis (MLN).
The ministry dispatched a team of experts to the region to study the disease.
A senior agriculture officer, who requested anonymity because he is not authorised to speak for the ministry, claimed that the disease that has damaged maize in the South Rift region has also been reported in parts of Burnt Forest and Soy in Uasin Gishu County.
The outbreak of MLN is expected to cut maize production by four million bags this season.
The harvest has also been afflicted by delayed rain which interrupted planting, and adequate farm inputs.