Rice farmers in Ahero (Kisumu) and Nyatike (Migori) could run into Sh76 million post-harvest due to lack of a ready market.
At the Ahero’s drying yard, over 20,000 bags of paddy rice are wasting away, with rodents and pests having a field day.
In Nyatike, Migori County, farmers were holding onto about 10,000 bags, waiting for a ready market.
The farmers were depending on Kenya National Trading Corporation to buy their produce, to be later sold to government institutions.
However, with the deal gone sour, they have resorted to selling to Ugandan and Tanzanian traders.
Both the Ugandan and Tanzanian traders are buying the rice at Sh30 per kilo, which the local farmers feel is too low.
“Schools are soon opening. We are facing a tough time having to sell the paddy at a throwaway price to survive,” said Mr Juma, a farmer in Ahero who recently harvested 30 bags of rice and could soon see the total hit 120 bags when he harvests the remaining fields.
Mr John Odindo, another farmer is worried about how he will quickly sell his harvest rice so that he can start paying off a Sh580,000 loan he took loan from Agriculture Finance Corporation.
“The interest is rolling, but I don't know how we will settle the loan. We are supposed to start preparing for the next planting season but the land is lying fallow,” said Mr Odindo.
Usually, farmers sell their rice through the established co-operatives which later mill the produce, grade it before selling to the Kenya National Trading Corporation.
In January 2020, President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a directive for the KNTC to purchase local rice, with a budget allocation of Sh660 million, a deal which Ahero and Nyatike farmers said could have greatly benefited from.
Senior Manager Western Kenya Scheme Joel Tanui said that out of desperation farmers are selling off their paddy to pay back the loans they took and get back to the production cycle.