Brief news on issues that affect farming and agricultural activities in the country

Saturday December 30 2017

Cattle grazing.

Cattle grazing. Herders in various parts of Tana Delta have in the last two weeks recorded deaths of their cows sparking fear of an anthrax outbreak. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By SATURDAY NATION TEAM
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Fear of anthrax outbreak as several animals die

Veterinary services personnel in Tana River County have been put on high alert following reports of deaths of more than 100 cows from suspected anthrax outbreak.

Herders in various parts of Tana Delta have in the last two weeks recorded death of their cows sparking fear.

Abdulkadir Gobu, the herders’ spokesman, said yesterday they had suffered huge losses since early December.

“I have personally lost more than five animals from what we suspect to be anthrax. Many of my colleagues in Chamnala, Burumburu and Samicha have also lost their animals. We need serious attention from the veterinary officers,” said Gobu.     

He further indicated that apart from anthrax, their animals are also suffering from foot and mouth disease and tsetse fly bites, which cause trypanosomiasis and haemorrhagic trypanosomiasis respectively.

County director of veterinary services Anthony Kinywa told Seeds of Gold that although he was not aware of the anthrax outbreak, he could not rule it out due to lack of vaccinations in the past one year.

“I do not want to downplay the situation because if animals stay long without vaccination, such outbreaks happen,” said Dr Kinywa.

He added that he was also not also aware of reports of foot and mouth disease outbreak in the lower parts of Tana Delta.

“The farmers are yet to report to our Garsen officers but we shall dispatch our officers on the ground to investigate claims of any disease outbreak,” said the director.

He added that in the event of an anthrax outbreak, his office would be forced to make an appeal for an urgent funding to combat the situation.

Dr Kinywa said they lack stock of anthrax vaccines, among others, amid reports that the country had also run out of anthrax vaccines required in all the 47 counties.

The herders noted that some of them had been forced to buy the crucial vaccines from as far and Mombasa and Nairobi for Sh1,500 for 50 animals.

Previously, a bottle of the vaccine was sold at Sh900 and for the same animals.

– Galgocha Bocha

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Pay us on time, farmers tell tobacco companies

Tobacco farmers in Migori County have asked local companies dealing with the product to process their payment in good time.

Besides poor leaf prices, the farmers have for long been complaining of delayed payment.

This, coupled with lack of market, had seen many of them abandon  the crop citing frustrations.

Majority, however, went back to it due to lack of a proper alternative cash crop.

“We are asking the companies to pay us for better planning. We have been frustrated in the past due to poor prices. We expect a change this season,” said Cyrus Rioba Makore, a tobacco farmer from Sakuri in Kuria East.

Farmers tend their tobacco crops in a farm.

Farmers tend their tobacco crops in a farm. Tobacco farmers in Migori County have asked local companies dealing with the product to process their payment in good time. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Joram Mong’osi, the chairperson of Kuria East Tobacco Farmers Association, said that the companies had promised to pay promptly.

“We do not expect anything short of timely payment of our dues. Most of the farmers have incurred huge debts in growing the crop and they would want to settle the loans as soon as possible,” said Mong’osi.

The farmers’ woes were in 2015 compounded by the exit of Alliance One Tobacco, which was the biggest leaf buyer in Migori.

The firm moved to Uganda and Zimbabwe, citing poor leaf quality in Kenya.

More than 10,000 farmers were left counting losses after their leaves lacked market.

British American Tobacco Kenya and Mastermind Tobacco still operate in Migori, but on small-scale.

Other new companies such as Star Tobacco Company and Eastobac Limited have also ventured into the region boosting the market for the crop.

A kilo of the leaves goes for Sh150 with the best grade set to fetch Sh270 up from Sh200 last year. Scores of farmers have already harvested, cured and packed the leaves ready for market. 

“Harvesting and curing has been completed. We are ready to take the leaves to the buyers,” added Rioba. Migori accounts for 70 per cent of tobacco produced in Kenya.

– Vivere Nandiemo