After months of a dry spell, some parts of the Mt Kenya region received rains on Wednesday and Thursday, giving hope to farmers.
The farmers have seen their crops drying up, leaving them counting huge losses.
According to the Kenya Meteorological Department, preliminary predictions indicate that the expected March, April and May 2023 rainfall is likely to be depressed and characterised by a late onset and poor distribution in time and space.
On Wednesday, heavy rains pounded Nyeri town and its environs for two hours – from 6:30pm to 8:30pm. The clouds were dark again on Thursday.
“We thank God for today’s rain. We have been waiting for it so that we can get better prices for food commodities from farmers. We hope to receive more rainfall because it has been so hot and sunny,” said Faith Wanjiru, a trader at Kamukunji market.
For at least three weeks now, more than 40,000 acres of the Aberdare National Park have been ravaged by fire.
Kenya Wildlife Service assistant director of Mountain Conservation Bakari Mungumi said that should the dry weather persist; a number of rivers are expected to dry up.
“We are lucky that we have received light showers but it is in the lower forest zones not up in the moorland. We pray that all will go to the moorlands and support those teams,” Mr Bakari said.
In Tharaka-Nithi County, the rainfall pounded Mt Kenya Forest and its environs.
Other parts of the county including Tharaka constituency and Igambang’ombe in Chuka/Igambang’ombe Constituency remained dry.
In most parts of Tharaka constituency, permanent rivers and pastures have dried up, leading to the suffering of both humans and livestock.
In Meru, no rains have been reported, even as farmers count losses after the short rains season ended before crops were ready for harvest.
Long rains are expected later in March, but even as farmers wait, the short rains were not sufficient. After planting their crops, farmers expected good rains that were not forthcoming.
“We planted maize and beans but while we harvested some beans, the maize did not mature. It is now withering after rains failed and we don’t expect to harvest anything,” Mr Titus Mutwiri, a farmer in Igembe North, said.
He said he had planted maize on his five acres and expected to harvest 30 bags, but he would be lucky to get five bags.
“We now hope these rains will be enough to enable the crops to mature. If the same pattern is repeated, it will be a disaster because we will have gone two seasons with little rain,” said Ms Ruth Nkirote, a farmer at Makinduri, Tigania East.
Besides Igembe North, the other areas that are most affected are Igembe Central, Igembe South, Imenti Central, Tigania East and West and Buuri sub-counties. Some parts of Imenti North and Imenti South are also affected.
Farmers now want the government to prioritise the provision of water for irrigation. “We want the government to prioritise sinking of boreholes, water pans, and construction of dams so that we don’t experience this next season,” said Ms Mercy Kananu, a farmer in Imenti Central.
Other areas such as Murang’a, Laikipia, Embu and Kirinyaga remained dry but cloudy.
Reporting by JAMES MURIMI, GITONGA MARETE and ALEX NJERU.