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Kisumu rice growers count losses after Nyando banks burst

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A resident flees to safety after flood water marooned homes in Nyando, Kisumu on Tuesday. PHOTO | ONDARI OGEGA | NMG

Hundreds of rice farmers in Kisumu are counting losses after the raging waters of River Nyando destroyed 7,500 acres of paddy.

According to a National Irrigation (NIB) Western Kenya Board report, the value of rice destroyed so far is worth Sh810 million. This is likely to worsen the food situation in a country which imports nearly two thirds of stock required to meet annual national rice consumption.

Scheme manager Joel Tanui said the floods also destroyed Sh400 million worth of water channels, roads and pathways.

"This morning, we commissioned excavators to open channels to release flood water. We have had floods before but this is the worst in 30 years," he said.

Mr Tanui said it would take farmers an investment of Sh200 million to recover from the loss.

Farmers described the floods as the worst to have hit the rice fields ever. This year, farmers had a share of challenges ranging from the periodic invasion of quelea birds to a lack of market and now, the raging floods.

Alphonce Oruko, a rice farmer at the Ahero Irrigation Scheme, said the waters flattened the paddy, which was about to be harvested.

"The waters have flattened the dykes and the harvest. This is the worst loss farmers have ever experienced," he said.

George Okaka, chairman of West Kano Scheme said 1,500 acres of paddy had been wasted.

"You know of late the back flow from the lake has been affecting the paddy field and now the flood has worsened the situation" he said.

Ombeyi MCA Vitalis Otura asked the national government to intervene.

"It has been total loss for the rice farmers at the various stages.

“We have been complaining to the national government to build dykes and address issue of repeated floods in Nyando," he said.

"These are the signs of the impact of the climatic changes and especially the Mau Forest degradation. Our people are now suffering."

For hundreds of farmers in Nyando, rice farming is a key source of livelihood.