IMPACT OF CORONAVIRUS

N. Rift farm workers scarce, fear virus, all costs rise

Workers and drivers say they're afraid for their health, labourers demand higher pay

In Summary

•Large-scale farm owners forced to pay more for the fewer worker, transport costs rise

•Farmers hope the measures enforced by the state will not reduce production.

Farmers plant maize in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia county.
PLANTING AT LAST: Farmers plant maize in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia county.
Image: FILE

The coronavirus impact has extended to the North Rift farming sector where planting season is underway with fewer labourers as most people avoid crowding and public transport. 

Large-scale farm owners said they had been forced to pay more for the fewer workers who agreed to work.

“Some workers said they were risking their lives and had to be paid more and also work for fewer hours,"  large-scale farmer at Ziwa Jonah Korir said.

He said they were paying an average Sh600 per day for the casual workers, p from the usual Sh4,000.

Korir said the costs of transporting farm inputs had also gone up because many people, including truck and matatu drives, were scared of movements.

Some workers said they were risking their lives and had to be paid more and also work for fewer hours.
Farmer Jonah KIorir 

Director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo said national government measures to control the virus were necessary but the measures would have far-reaching impacts on all economic sectors, including agriculture.

“We just hope the government will put in place measures to enhance food production considering the impact these measures will have on the entire economy," Menjo said.

Most farmers are planting maize and beans in high-producing counties of Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nandi, among others.

Moiben MP Sila Tiren said the measures were necessary for safety and urged all Kenyans, including farmers, to comply with health requirements.

“In such times no one is an exception and we all have to comply if we want to have a future," Tiren said.

Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Alex Tolgos said sensitisation about the coronavirus had been taken to the village level and every farmer was given guidelines to follow.

“We can only be safer for a better future if we do what we are being told to do," Tolgos said.

He said North Rift counties have ensured access to water in most areas so our people can continuously wash their hands.

Menjo said that id that last year the country had a 20 per cent drop in maize production and they hope the impact of the coronavirus would not worsen the declining levels of food production. 

 

(Edited by V. Graham)

KFA board member Kipkorir Menjo addressing farmers in Eldoret on January 26.
VIRUS IMPACT: KFA board member Kipkorir Menjo addressing farmers in Eldoret on January 26.
Image: MATHEWS NDANYI