MASSIVE LOSSES

Garissa farmers propose special fund to cushion them from floods

Floods have washed away crops in more than 500 group farms that were ready for harvesting.

In Summary

• Not even irrigation equipment has been spared.

• Farmers had yet to recover from December floods and the recent desert locusts invasions.

Garissa Governor Ali Korane tours irrigation farms before flooding struck.
FLOODS: Garissa Governor Ali Korane tours irrigation farms before flooding struck.
Image: STEPHEN ASTARIKO

The Kenya Farmers' Federation wants the Garissa county assembly to create a special kitty through legislation to cushion farmers from the effects of floods.

Through chairman Dubat Amey, the county chapter said floods have washed away crops in more than 500 group farms that were ready for harvesting, resulting in huge losses. Irrigation equipment has also been destroyed.

Life has been unbearable for farmers, who had yet to recover from the fallout of December floods and the recent desert locusts invasions.

Amey said floods and droughts had a 10-year cycle but now take place every three months. He said River Tana has burst its banks for the third time in the past 24 months and ruined livelihoods.

"The majority of these farmers are yet to recover from last years floods and they were still battling with the desert locusts’ invasion when the coronavirus and the current floods struck,” Amey said.

"If the county assembly does not appropriate funds to cushion the farmers, the majority of them will never go back to farming."

The crops grown along River Tana in Garissa Township, Fafi and Balambala subcounties include mangoes, lemons, tomatoes, onions, pawpaw, avocadoes and bananas.

Amey welcomed the move by Garissa MCAs to prevail upon the Senate to interrogate Energy CS Charles Keter over frequent flooding in the county and in neighbouring Tana River. They have blamed the flooding on the spillage from the KenGen-owned Masinga Dam.

He said they need a long-term solution from the ministry even as they seek a short-term solution through county legislation.

“Time has come for our leaders to move from mere talk and for once come up with immediate solutions that will have a direct impact on our farmers who are reeling from the effects of floods,” Amey said.

Hasan Yarrow, the chairman of the group farms, said that while it was important for the county to continue focusing most of its energy and resources on stopping the spread of Covid-19, flood victims equally need assistance.

He said it is time the flood problem is comprehensively fixed and long-term solutions implemented so no more farmers opt for other economic activities.

“We have been encouraging our people to shift from livestock keeping to farming, something that they had started embracing. I know of 100 farmers who have completely given up because of the floods,” Yarrow said.

"KenGen should take the blame for releasing excess waters from the Masinga Dam that keep destroying our only source of livelihood."

 

(Edited by F'Orieny)