LIVELIHOOD AT RISK

Snails wreak havoc on Mwea rice farms

Pests have overrun sections of Mwea Irrigation Scheme and are wiping out the rice crop

In Summary
  • Snails will drastically decrease production unless they are eliminated
  • Farmers handpick the snails and their eggs and destroying them
A rice field in Mwea, Kirinyaga county
AT RISK: A rice field in Mwea, Kirinyaga county
Image: REUBEN GITHINJI
A farmer displays some snails which have invaded his farm in Mwea Irrigation Scheme
PESTS: A farmer displays some snails which have invaded his farm in Mwea Irrigation Scheme
Image: REUBEN GITHINJI

Rice farmers in Kirinyaga county are bracing themselves for a poor harvest following invasion of their farms by snails.

The snails have overrun sections of the Mwea Irrigation Scheme and are wiping out the rice crop in its early stages.

The snails are reproducing fast and target recently planted rice.

Luke Mwangi said the snails will drastically decrease production unless they are eliminated.

The farmers have resorted to traditional techniques of pest control, hand-picking snails and their eggs and destroying them but the strategy is not very successful.

Sometimes farmers drain water out of the farms to weaken the snails so that they can die.

“We have also been trying to use ducks in the farms to eat the snails but this method is not effective as they cannot eat all of them at once. We are calling on the government to provide us with a permanent solution," Mwangi said.

Peter Mwai from Kimbimbi expressed disappointment that the pests were destroying the blossoming crop.

He said farmers had tried to eradicate the snails by spraying chemicals on them, but the method seems not to work. The national and the county governments should help in dealing with the problem once and for all, he said.

“The snails have become so troublesome that we have reached a point of desperation as the pests destroy our only source of livelihood,” Mwai said.

 

The farmers expressed worries the snails may cause waterborne diseases like bilharzia. Many farmers cannot afford gumboots to protect themselves from such diseases.

Edited by Henry Makori