Tea farmers decry losses as hailstorms destroy crops

By Nikko Tanui

KERICHO; KENYA; Tea farmers in Kericho and Nandi counties have suffered huge losses as hailstorms continue to destroy hectares of tea bushes on farms.

Experts said the heavy hailstorms experienced in the two tea growing counties in the past two months are likely to scale down volumes of tea produced following erratic weather patterns.

Joel Chepkwony of the Kenya Union of Small Scale Tea Owners said the most affected farmers are those in Kabianga area. He, however, said the damage was not as extensive but noted that if this weather condition continued farmers would suffer more loses.

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In Tirgaga area, Bomet County, 17,590 kilogrammes of tea leaves have been lost daily as a result of hailstorms experienced a few weeks ago.

Plant trees

According to a Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA) report, 12,890 kilogrammes of tea were lost in a single day in Ndarawetta, Singorwet and Mugango/Kiramwok zones last month. Tea farmers will now have to wait for another two to three months for the tea bushes to recover from the impact of the hailstorms before they start picking the leaves again.

KTDA Senior Agricultural Manager Peter Mbadi said these adverse climatic changes are caused by global warming.

“The hailstorms are a result of the effect of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide emissions that come from burning fossil fuels or deforestation. To mitigate these effects, let us all plant trees and reduce emissions of carbon to the atmosphere,” Mbadi said adding that hailstorms experienced in the last two months have affected the quantity of green leaf delivered to the tea buying centres.

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He said this year’s weather patterns are unpredictable as hailstorms did not occur at the same time last year. “Sometimes it is difficult to predict these weather patterns. So, it is not clear when the hailstorms will end,” Mbadi said.

Last year, Kericho and Nandi were greatly hit by hailstorms.

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Kericho Kenya Tea Development Agency tea