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Ernest Abuto, rice farmer at West Kano irrigation scheme collects rice grains after drying on December 30,2019.
When the festive season began, many rice farmers in Nyando were optimistic that they would make good returns.

There was a great promise as a number of farms started registering bumper harvests from huge investments.

With the demand of rice increasing significantly and a 50 kilogramme bag attracting about Sh3,400 up from Sh3,100, many had been optimistic that they would change their dwindling fortunes.

Now, however, hundreds of farmers are reeling in shock after erratic weather patterns marked by heavy floods destroyed more than 1,034 acres of rice resulting to a loss estimated to be more than Sh64 million. 

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When The Standard visited West Kano Irrigation Scheme, large swathes of land with rice were submerged in water, with newly-planted seedlings also washed along the shores of Lake Victoria.

Several farmers stood by their farms in agony after managing to wade through the floods for the first time after several weeks. High levels of water had denied them access to their farms.

Interviews with a number of them established that almost all the farmers at the scheme have been dealt a huge blow by the floods and hailstones. Only those who harvested their crop in November managed to get a few sacks of rice.

The 3,000-acre scheme in subdivided into three blocs, which is planted on a rotational basis.

For Jennifer Ogutu, an elderly mother, all her hopes of boosting her income were dashed after the floods destroyed her four parcels of land and swept away her crop that had been ready for harvesting. “I was hoping to get Sh100,000 for each of the parcels, but that has now gone down the drain,” said Ms Ogutu.

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She regretted how her heavy investment, which included spending over Sh50,000 in each of the farms to plant and manage the crop, had turned into a waste.

But she is not alone. Several other farmers narrated the painful ordeal they have had to go through after the heavy rains that lasted for several days left a huge trail of destruction.

Unlike the better part of the year when the market had been low with only a few Ugandans coming to purchase rice, December holidays had offered them a new lifeline.

Ernest Abuto, a father of two who had been looking forward to using his rice fortunes to pay school fees for his two children pursuing higher education, said he has been left broken.

David Dhine, a rice mill director in West Kano described the loss as devastating, noting that several farmers have even left visiting their farms as a result of depression.

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“The loss amounts to about Sh64 million. We had been expecting bumper harvest from the blocs that had been ready for harvesting,” said Mr Dhine. While some of the farmers say that the rain had been excess, others claim that lack of proper drainage contributed to their losses.

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Floods Rice Sh64 million
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