SECTIONS

Poor harvest looms as stem, leaf rust bite

By TITUS TOO

There are fears of poor harvest in the North Rift due to high humidity and high cost of chemicals to control stem and leaf rust diseases.

Wheat farmers may realise low production unless they invest heavily in sprays to control the disease.

Eldoret East District Crop Officer Elizabeth Chepngetich said some farmers have reported leaf and stem rust in wheat farms.

“The disease is rampant now because of the humid conditions and the only way to control it is by spraying. The chemicals are, however, expensive with some fungicides costing Sh20,000 per five litres,” said the officer. She said the humid condition can also cause stunted growth hence the need to spray.

Agricultural officers who spoke to The Standard termed the current weather situation ‘erratic’. 

lower profit

Farmers in Uasin Gishu led by Silas Tiren, Paul Kipyego and Christopher Kiptum said the high cost of chemical sprays and other inputs would affect their profit levels.

 “Heavy rains cause fertiliser leaching and farmers are forced to spend heavily on alternative folia sprays to achieve better produce,” said Tiren.

He added wet conditions also cause rust in wheat farms and farmers are forced to spray several times to reverse the conditions.

Tiren said unless wheat farmers spray their farms, their yields would be lower and appealed to the government to intervene and make the cost of the inputs affordable.

Farmers said the rains had also caused waterlogging in some regions making it difficult for machinery used in spraying to access the farms.

Paul Kipyego said they expect to harvest their current crop in October adding the ongoing rains had caused extreme cold temperatures that may affect the yield.

The region has experienced heavy rains from June with some feeder roads being rendered impassable.

 “It is difficult to deliver other farm produce like milk to market places or processing plants because of poor roads that have been made worse by rains,” said Kipyego.

Christopher Kiptum, another wheat farmer, urged the Government to increase wheat producer prices to Sh5,000 per 90 to allow farmers realise better profits.

“Costs of producing wheat is high and the current price of Sh2,700 make farmers experience losses. If the situation is not addressed, farmers will abandon wheat production,” says Kiptum .

“The government should allocate funds for the purchase of wheat by the National Cereals and Produce Board  like it does in maize to save farmers from being exploited by middlemen and millers,” said Kiptum.