Farmers count losses as elephants destroy crops in Meru

Elephant

An elephant grazing at a ranch in Laikipia County. The jumbos have invaded farms in Meru, destroying crops.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi I Nation Media Group

Food security in areas neighbouring the northern grazing zone in Meru County is threatened, after marauding elephants invaded the area, destroying thriving crops in dozens of acres.

Meru National Park senior warden Kitavi Kaloki admitted that over 200 elephants had invaded the area from Ngaremara region and they were driving them back to the park.

He said the animals were using the route as it had for long been an elephant corridor but people were now farming there.

The animals had raided the farms in Igembe North, Tigania East and Tigania West sub counties to feed on the crops that were nearing maturity after the short rains.

The damage has left dozens of farmers who had planted fast maturing crops like maize, sorghum, beans, green grams and millet are counting losses and staring at a prolonged drought.

The region has not experienced rains for the past four years and farmers had rushed to plant huge tracts of land after promising rains.

Mr Silverio Gakubu, a retired teacher from Kuka in Amwathi said a large herd of elephants had invaded his 30 acres and destroyed beans, green grams and millet that were almost maturing.

He said he had spent over Sh300,000 and planted the crops early hoping for a bumper harvest and good returns due to the prevailing good prices.

“I had borrowed a loan to capitalize on the short rains. We are coming from a famine situation and have embarked on alleviating the situation by planting early expecting high yields. 

“The elephants were so many elephants I just fled and watched from afar as they trampled on the crops,” he said.

Mr John Mwiti, a farmer said it was sad to see elephants destroying their crops at a time they were just emerging from a drought situation that has seen them rely on relief food.

“We were even buying beans at Sh200 per tin and maize at Sh100 and we have applied very expensive fertilizer. We do not know where we will get school fees from,” he lamented.

Similar challenges

Igembe North MP Julius Taitumu noted that farmers in Malaene, Kinisa, Marara and Nginyo areas were facing similar challenges and asked the KWS officials to quickly compensate them.

“We demand that the farmers be compensated as soon as possible and not be told that the papers have been filled. That does not help. If the elephants have become many here, take them to other areas,” he appealed.

Muthara MCA Aurelio Murangiri said tens of acres under irrigation had been destroyed in Tigania East area.

Mr Kaloki said KWS had compensated people who had been injured up to 2021 and were processing payments for others.

“We are encouraging farmers to report any damages caused to their farm produce and fill the forms. Do not lose hope, you will be compensated,” he promised.

Meru national park deputy warden Pauline Okode said they had accelerated the exercise and would have visited the farmers by the end of the week.

Ndoleli assistant county commissioner Kennedy Ng’etich urged the farmers not to take the law in their hands by attacking the marauding elephants and let the KWS officers deal with them.

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