Wheat, sorghum can survive scant rains

Fast-maturing drought-resistant crops recommended, everything needs some rain

In Summary

• Not all is gloom for farmers due to inadequate rains, crops such as wheat and sorghum will survive the dry spell.

• With a little rain, wheat and sorghum farmers will still get good harvests.


Wheat farming in Timau, Kenya
HOPE: Wheat farming in Timau, Kenya
Image: FILE

Not all crops will fail because of scant and erratic rains.

Wheat and sorghum require little water — unlike maize — and will survive. They mature in three months and harvests can be good.

Agriculture CAS Andrew Tuimur said on Tuesday that wheat and sorghum farmers may still get a good harvest this year.

He told the Star on the phone that if the rains continue, wheat farmers may recover as the crop takes three months to mature.

Cereal Growers Association CEO Antony Kioko said the industry is struggling due to the drought that has hit 17 counties.

“Without rains, you cannot plant anything and even crops that are drought-tolerant still need some little rains,” he said.

There was panic amongst wheat farmers in Narok county who had already planted in April but Kioko said the crop will mature with minimal rains. Narok produces 40 per cent of wheat in the country.

“Some parts of the North Rift will start planting wheat from May 15. There's still time if the rains will be okay.

"At this early stage, we have no reason to believe there will be any reduction of wheat production,” Kioko said.

He said there has been concern over delayed planting in some sorghum planting areas, but losses attributed to the erratic rains will not be as much as for maize.

High food prices 

Tuimur said the drought has led to a scarcity of commodities, resulting in high prices. He said a bucket of potatoes that sold for Sh150 is now selling for Sh300 to Sh400.

“There is a scarcity of cabbage, kale, carrots and peas and the little that is available in the market is very expensive,” Tuimur said.

The Agriculture ministry says 90kg bag of maize sells for  Sh3, 000-Sh4,000 across the country, up from Sh1, 500-Sh2, 700 in January.

A 50kg bag of potatoes, which sold for Sh1, 200 to Sh2, 000 three months ago now costs between Sh2,500 and Sh3,000.

A crate of tomatoes is selling wholesale for Sh5,500 to Sh8,000, up from  Sh3, 000  to Sh4,500 in January.

A 138kg extension bag of carrots costs Sh5,400 to Sh8,700, up from Sh1,400 to-Sh4,200 at the beginning of the year.

A 50kg bag of kale sells for  Sh3,000 to Sh4,000, up from Sh200 in January.

A try of eggs, which had declined to Sh150 in  February, has gone up to  Sh270 to Sh300.