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Ahero rice farmers lose Sh25 million worth of crops to hailstorm

NYANZA
By Kevine Omollo | October 26th 2015

Farmers at Ahero Irrigation Scheme in Kisumu County are counting losses after a hailstorm destroyed mature rice worth over Sh25 million that was due for harvesting.

Area National Irrigation Board (NIB) Chairman Joel Tanui has estimated the loss at Sh9 million for the farmers within the scheme and over Sh15 million for the outgrowers.

Over 350 acres of mature rice within the irrigation scheme and the neighbouring out-grower farms were reduced to husks after the heavy downpour in Nyando and Muhoroni sub-counties.

Large areas under sugarcane, tomatoes and butter nut, among other crops, were also destroyed at West Kano and South West Kano schemes, which had alternative crops during the off-peak season for rice.

Mr Tanui yesterday said no harvesting would be expected this season, adding that the entire scheme would be ploughed in preparation for the next planting season.

"From Ahero Irrigation Scheme alone, we were expecting about 3,000 bags of rice which go for about Sh9 million according to the current market price. Rice at the scheme was mature while the out-growers had some at vegetative and some flowering stages," he said.

Revolving fund

He added: "According to the scheme schedule, we were expecting farmers to start harvesting tomorrow (today) and it is unfortunate that we have nothing to do as the incident occurred just three days to the d-day."

Farming may be grounded in the scheme because the board has to recover what it has invested on the farmers.

The board has been providing farm inputs and water, and these are recovered after every harvesting season through the farmers' revolving fund.

"We now have to negotiate with the county government and other partners to see how farmers can be supported to get back to the farms and how we can recover our investment on the farmers because if we insist on having our share now then the revolving fund may be grounded," Tanui said.

Jane Kisia, Director of Oriamataro Scheme located within South West Kano Scheme said farmers will assess the exact amount of losses and seek the Government's help to enable them replant.

"These days most farmers spend their own money to do land preparation and they seek help from NIB for farm inputs, so NIB may waiver the inputs, but what next for the expenses in land preparation? We wish the county government comes in to help cushion the losses or else most farmers may abandon their farms," Ms Kisia said.

Governor Jack Ranguma assured farmers that "adequate measures will be put in place to mitigate the effects of such calamities".

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