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Farmers predict poor harvest as Met warns of delayed rains

Delayed onset of rains has caused panic among farmers.

Farmers noted that the dry spell has made it impossible for them to plant and predicted reduced food production by the end of the year.

Their concerns come at a time the Meteorological Department has warned that delayed rains and poor distribution are likely to impact negatively on the agriculture sector. In the North Rift, most farmers have already bought seeds and inputs in readiness for the planting season.

“We are waiting for rains in earnest and it seems that this year, the onset will affect our overall production. I cannot risk to plant yet I know that factors such as army fall worm can be an issue if they happen to sprout,” said Michael Kiplagat a farmerin Kesses constituency.

He added: “We have always depended on rain-fed agriculture and the current drought is alarming. Those who have gone ahead and planted are worried because they have gambled with the weather after sinking huge amounts of money on inputs and seeds.”

Initially, maize farmers planted crops by the end of March but the changing weather patterns have disrupted this tradition.

“Farming has become a challenge as years go by. It is compounded by poor prices, weather, diseases and unwillingness by the State to cushion farmers who are always dedicated in transforming their lives,” said Mark Kibet a farmerin Ainabkoi.

Reduced water levels

According to the Met lack of pasture for livestock is expected to worsen in NorthWest and Asal areas where poor rainfall is expected.

The dry spell will also lead to reduced water levels in seven forks, Turkwel and Sondu Miriu catchment areas.

Turkana County which has been facing massive drought is yet to receive rainfall that will be adequate for pasture regeneration.

County director in charge of Met services Muinda Francis urged the government to put in place pro-active measures to cushion drought hit areas.

“The impact of tropical cyclone in south west Indian Ocean that is sucking the moisture for our region and delaying onset of rains in some regions in the country is a matter of concern. Two weeks ago, we received light rains for a day in Turkana West, North, South, Loima, East and Central but it is not adequate,” he said.