Maize producing counties project a drop in production in current season

Fall armyworm has destroyed acres of maize crop in North Rift region Uasin Gishu County. [Osinde Obare, Standard]


The Government is facing a huge compensation bill from farmers affected by crop failure in the North Rift region.

Amid reports of massive losses due to drought and effects of fall armyworm infestation, some counties are already compiling a list of affected farmers for possible compensation.

Elongated drought after planting, heavy rains, high operational costs among other myriad of challenges could further dwindle maize production in North Rift. Uasin Gishu County, for instance, a leading maize producer in the region, faces a shortfall of 1.6 million bags of 90-kilogramme each at the end of the current season.

County Executive Committee (CEC) Member for Agriculture Dr Cyril Cheruiyot said they will register the looming shortage with the national government to support farmers’ compensation to enable them resume farming next season.

Projected yield

According to Dr Cheruiyot, the target production hectarage of maize was reduced from 104,925 hectares to 103,335.

The county had targeted 5,219,145 bags but projected yield is 3,616, 725. Last year, the county harvested 4,271,545 bags from 102,753 hectares while in 2015, they managed 4,190,065 bags from 104,078 hectares.

The expected low production will translate to losses on the part of farmers, some of whom, acquired credit facilities to invest and will be forced to struggle to get back into farming come the next season.

Dr Cheruiyot appealed to financial institutions that advanced credit facilities to agricultural producers not to give farmers ample time to repay loans.

In Trans Nzoia County, another grain basket, farmers are staring at huge losses expected as a result of heavy rains, which has paralysed harvesting even as experts predict a huge drop.

Acting Committee Member for Agriculture Ms Mary Nzomo said maize yields this season is expected to drop by 1.6 million bags. She attributed the drop to fall armyworm invasions and poor rain patterns.

The county normally produces an average of about 5 million bags annually from over 100,000 hectares. And in Trans Nzoia, which is rated as the largest maize producer, contributes about 40 per cent to the country’s 41 million bags requirement annually. “We are concern over rains. It has stopped us from harvesting the crop and there are reports from some areas that the crop has started to rot,’’ said Tom Nyagechaga, the chief secretary Kenya National Farmers Federation Knff.

A spot-check in most areas indicated that farmers had stalked their maize and prepared their stores in readiness for harvest. In a sharp contrast Nandi County, farmers have projected better yields compared to last year. Mrs Mary Ngelechei, the CEC for Agriculture said they project to achieve 1.9 million bags of 90 kilogrammes each from 67,530 hectares.

The county harvested 1.8 million bags last year in 67,750 hectares. Kenya National Federation of Farmers (Kenff) Treasurer Ruth Kemboi has urged the government to open NCPB stores to enable farmers sell their produce.

A survey conducted in March established that fall armyworm had adversely affected production in Turbo, Soy, Moiben, Ainabkoi, Kesses and Kapsaret sub-counties.