Tea farmers in Nandi counting losses as hail hit area

Hailstones. [Courtesy]

Tea farmers in Nandi are counting losses after hailstones destroyed their cash crop in the region.

The affected farms are in Tindiret, Nandi Hills and parts of Aldai region.

The heavy rains that pounded the region for the last four days came after a three-month dry season in the entire North Rift region.

Richard Korir, a tea farmer in Aldai, said the hail storm has affected the quality of leaves.

"Many of us were expecting rains to boost tea production after a prolonged drought. We are forced now to hold for three weeks to get fresh leaves that meet the quality of tea demanded by the factories," he stated.

John Mengich is among over 100 small-scale tea farmers whose crops were extensively damaged in Tindiret.

"The storm spared crops on the hilly parts. But some of us living in the low lands woke up to the hailstones on Monday morning," he said.

The region experienced early rain last January and this year.

"We normally experience hailstones annually between June and August, but this indicates the change of climate we have observed for the last two years," said Mengich.

Erick Kosgei, a local tea and maize farmer, claimed climate change is affecting farming patterns.

In its January 18-24 forecast, the Kenya Meteorological Department circular noted rainfall is expected over several parts of the country.