Rice farmers in Homa Bay county are counting huge losses after hailstones destroyed their crops, which are due to harvesting.
The heavy rainfall in the area has left the farmers with no hope of getting their projected income. The rice is in a 100-acre piece of land.
During the dry spell that began last December, the farmers relied on water courtesy of the Kimira Oluch Smallholder Farm Improvement Project (KOSFIP) to water farms.
Rose Akumu, the chairperson of farmers operating in the affected block, said most farmers were targeting to harvest at least 50 bags of 90 kilograms each.
But, due to the heavy rains, they are scared of running into losses.
“Most farmers spent between Sh30,000 to Sh50,000 as capital. We have incurred serious financial losses due to hailstones,” Akumu said.
Another farmer, Juma Rapemo, said the loss was unexpected, revealing he had leased the land to grow the rice.
“I planted the rice as a source of income. I was relying on the profits to pay school fees for my children. With the heavy rains, I doubt if I will reap anything,” Rapemo said.
Some farmers have now resorted to selling their rice plants to livestock farmers, which is not a profitable venture.
They argued that doing so is better than leaving the plants to dry and decompose on their farms
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“We planted rice and expected to reap big. But it is very sad the calamity has forced us to sell the rice plants in the form of grass to farmers feeding their livestock,” Rapemo added.
The farmers are now appealing to Homa Bay County government to support them in the next season.
“We would like the county government to support us. They can issue us with subsidized fertilizers and seeds. Further, they can offer free tractor services for tilling the land,” Nyagilo Oduor, a farmer, said.