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Wheat production set to decline in South Rift region

Thursday May 14 2020
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A wheat farm in Narok. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

By GEORGE SAYAGIE

Wheat production in most parts of the South Rift region is set to decline due to erratic rainfall that has disrupted planting, a situation that's been made worse by the effects of Covid-19.

Wheat acreage will also reduce after some farmers in the food basket of Narok County chose not to plant due to fear of incurring losses.

According to Narok Cereal Growers Association (CGA) Treasurer Nicholas Oloirusha, a group of wheat and barley farmers -- majority being small-scale growers -- could not prepare their farms due to financial difficulties and waterlogged soils that have seen field machinery stuck in the mud for hours.

This has wasted lots of man hours and incurred higher expenses through wear and tear.

"The sporadic rainfall that started in October last year is likely to affect this season’s produce as the crop has started to wither due to lack of sufficient water,” said Mr Oloirusha.

Irregular rain patterns have also affected other crops such as maize and beans, with farmers and Agriculture Ministry officials expressing fear of decline in production.

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“Lack of market for last season’s produce has subjected us to financial problems which has forced us to reduce acreage under wheat cultivation,” said Mr Oloirusha.

He said the problem coupled with lack of government subsidised fertiliser and minimal time to farm due to the curfew has forced him to reduce acreage under the crop by 200 acres.

“This year I am planting 500 acres of wheat compared to last year when I did 700. We also don’t have enough time to till and prepare the fields due to the government curfew,” he added.

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