Pain for Nyandarua farmers as hailstorm flattens crops, damages homes

Nyandarua hailstorms

The weather office has predicted heavy rain and floods in most parts of the country over the next few days.

Photo credit: Waikwa Maina | Nation Media Group

Hundreds of farmers from Kirima and neighbouring villages in Kipipiri Constituency, Nyandarua County, are counting their losses after heavy rains that lashed the area on Wednesday night, accompanied by hailstones, destroyed their crops.

The heavy rains and hailstorms also destroyed houses and killed livestock in some homesteads. 

Nyandarua hailstorms

The weather office has predicted heavy rain and floods in most parts of the country over the next few days.

Photo credit: Waikwa Maina | Nation Media Group

The rains, which lasted for more than three hours, caused thousands of shillings worth of damage and residents are now appealing to the county and national governments for assistance.

During a tour of the affected farms, the County Executive for Agriculture Francis Miring'u, directed his officials to assess the extent of the damage and advise the government on the way forward and the assistance needed by the residents.

"This is the first time we have experienced such a heavy hailstorm that lasted for more than three hours. It started with strong winds before the rains came and caused a lot of damage. All the crops have been destroyed by the snow, some livestock grazing in the fields have died while houses have also been destroyed," said Ms Ruth Wambui. 

Nyandarua hailstorms

The weather office has predicted heavy rain and floods in most parts of the country over the next few days.

Photo credit: Waikwa Maina | Nation Media Group

Ms Mercy Ngige said she lost more than five acres of Irish potatoes worth Sh500,000, which she was expecting to harvest from next month.

"The potatoes were doing very well, I was one of the first farmers to plant expecting an early market that would guarantee me at least Sh1,000 per bag. I was expecting an average of 100 bags per acre but I lost everything. I had taken a loan to venture into modern farming technologies," said Mrs Ngige.

Mr Robert Nyokabi, who lost sheep to the hailstorm, said the affected families were in urgent need of food aid, assistance to rebuild their houses and seeds to replant before the rains end.

"We have nothing left on the farms, our children are starving. We are urgently appealing to the government to provide us with planting materials," said the farmer.

The agriculture executive has urged residents to adopt the culture of insuring their crops and animals against such natural disasters.

"We have partnered with Apollo Agriculture, an agricultural technology company that works with smallholder farmers to maximise their profits by providing inputs and advice to farmers, and APA Insurance, which helps compensate farmers against such disasters. 

Farmers in Ndaragua region were last month compensated with over Sh20 million due to a prolonged drought last year that destroyed their crops, but the insurance is not only for drought, it covers everything including disease and pest outbreak, disasters like the one we have today in Kirima village among others, I encourage farmers to take up insurance for their crops and livestock," said Mr Miringu.

He said the report submitted by his officials will guide the county government's immediate support and mitigation efforts.