CROP COULD ROT IN FARMS

Rains to continue this week, farmers might suffer harvest losses

In Central Kenya, the rains will reduce and most places will be cool and cloudy.

In Summary

• Aura noted there was a possibility of sporadic showers across the country throughout this week, except in Northeastern Kenya. 

• Recently, the department warned farmers not to rush to plant because the proper rains would come next month. 

The effects of heavy rains in Athi River, Machakos County, March 15, 2018. /GEORGE OWITI
The effects of heavy rains in Athi River, Machakos County, March 15, 2018. /GEORGE OWITI

Rains will continue in the Rift Valley and Western Kenya regions throughout this week, increasing the possibility of crops rotting in farms. 

The meteorological department said the downpour will be heavy today but will reduce on Friday. 

In Central Kenya, the rains will reduce and most places will be cool and cloudy.

"However, there is a possibility of afternoon or evening showers occurring over few places," Met director Stella Aura said in a forecast that ends on Monday.

She noted there was a possibility of sporadic showers across the country throughout this week, except in Northeastern Kenya. 

"Rainfall is expected to continue over the Lake Victoria Basin, the Highlands West of the Rift Valley, the Central, South Rift Valley and the Coast," Aura said. 

Recently, the department warned farmers not to rush to plant because the proper rains would come next month. 

Aura said all projections show the country will receive enhanced rains between October and December.

She said the rains will begin in the second week of October in most places and end in December.

“The distribution of rainfall in time and space is expected to be generally good over most places especially during October and the peak month of November,” she said.

However, the Ministry of Agriculture has warned that the rains might cause huge post-harvest losses.

Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur told the Star that the short rains are both good and bad news for farmers.

“It is good news for the farmers who have already harvested their crops or have extra land," he said.

Tuimur advised such farmers to plant short-term crops that mature early like potatoes, vegetables, sweet potatoes, and onions.

"The rains will hurt farmers who are yet to harvest. This means they will be harvesting when it is wet. There are likely to be a lot of post-harvest losses.

"There will be a lot of rotting in the fields depending on how much rains will be there. The rains will also affect transportation of produce from the farms," the CAS said.

Areas that are likely to suffer from post-harvest losses include the North Rift, parts of South Rift and Lower Eastern areas of Embu, Meru, Kitui and Machakos. These areas begin harvesting this month until November depending on the maturity of the crops.

He appealed to county governments to provide drying machines for farmers to ensure the maize achieves the required moisture level for storage.

The CAS said the pastoral communities stand to benefit from the rains because they will have adequate pasture and water.

Deputy director Samuel Mwangi urged farmers not to rush to plant without consulting agricultural officers.

"Proper rains will begin in October. What we are seeing now in many places are off-season rains and will not last," he said.