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Rift maize harvest to fall by 6m bags

Posted on October, 12, 2017 at 10:52 am

Maize production in the Rift Valley is expected to drop by more than six million bags as a result of drought and the armyworm invasion, Agriculture officials say.

Countrywide, farmers are expected to harvest more than 43 million bags but agriculture officials say the harvest will be below 36 million bags.

Production will drop in Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia and Nandi, the country's grain basket,.

Uasin Gishu Agriculture executive Cyril Cheruiyot said on Wednesday more than 1.4 million bags of maize were destroyed by the armyworm that damaged crops throughout the region.

“The rains were not reliable in most areas and farmers have already indicated heavy losses as they begin to harvest maize,” Cheruiyot said.

Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago says the state should consider compensating farmers for losses caused by the worms.

“There should be a way to give farmers incentive so they are able to go back to their farms and produce more food next season,” Mandago said.

Trans Nzoia's maize harvest is expected to decline by an estimated 1.3 million bags and Nandi's by 700,000 bags. Elgeyo Marakwet, Bomet, Nakuru and Kericho will also harvest less.

Mandago, chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc, said all farmers have suffered from the armyworm invasion.

The bloc brings together eight counties.

On Wednesday the national government said it would spend Sh6 billion to buy maize from farmers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said the spending is part of the Strategic Food Reserve programme to increase food security and keep prices affordable.

He spoke when he opened the Nairobi International Trade Fair at Jamhuri Park Showground.

The government will also reduce the price of subsidised fertilizer from Sh1,800 per bag to Sh1,200 for the next planting season.

In the last financial year the government procured and distributed 177,100 metric tonnes of fertilisers for Sh5.9 billion.

Director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo welcomed the state's purchase through the NCPB but said the government should increase maize prices to cushion farmers from their losses.

Source: The Star