Farmers to receive Sh85 million payout for crop losses

Farmers at a farm in Chala in Taita Taveta County. 

Photo credit: Lucy Mkanyika I Nation Media Group.

For years, farmers in Taita Taveta County have suffered the consequences of crop failure due to climatic changes that have resulted in erratic rainfall.

But now, over 1,400 smallholder farmers have been assured by the government that they will be compensated for crops that failed in the last planting season.

Eligible farmers who were under the government-sponsored Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme Climate-Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods (KCEP-CRAL) programme will be paid.

They are among 13,000 in the coastal region who will benefit from a payout of Sh85 million for crops that failed because of drought.

The programme is funded by the Swedish development agency SIDA through the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

Under the programme, farmers were provided with high-quality inputs and guaranteed access to markets and crop insurance.

Farmers who cultivate drought-tolerant crops like cowpeas, green grams and sorghum will benefit.

KCEP-CRAL aims to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity among smallholder farmers in arid and semi-arid areas.

Agriculture executive Davis Mwangoma said the programme is part of the government's efforts to manage risks in the sector.

"The project (will help cushion) farmers who are affected by unpredictable rainfall, droughts and crop pests," he said in an interview.

Because rains failed last season, Kenya risks facing food shortages after a 70 per cent crop failure was recorded.

Mr Mwangoma urged farmers to take advantage of the programme to insure their crops against losses.

"The insurance has been subsidised by the government, so farmers pay a very small amount of money. That also shows their commitment to the programme," he said.

Climatic changes have affected farmers worldwide and farmers need to cushion themselves against such disasters, he said.

Janet Ngele, a farmer in Kishushe, said financial losses caused by crop failure are not new.

Ms Ngele had planted two acres of green grams and expected to harvest 10 bags of 100kg.

"The crops have already dried up. We have no hope for harvesting anything," she said.

The compensation, she said, will help sustain their families as they prepare for the next planting season.

"Most farmers have no other source of income and that is why they take the risk of investing in crops in every season. Crop losses have become more frequent now, and farmers have been suffering losses for several seasons," he said.

Farmers also face high costs for agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, seedlings and pesticides.

"The prices of inputs have been going up and our incomes dropping year after year. Sometimes we get losses due to the high cost of farming. It is not just the rain alone," Ms Ngele said.

She said things could get worse if the government fails to intervene.

Depressed rainfall led to a decline in crop production in the last season.

On Wednesday, Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga launched the payouts for eligible farmers in Kilifi, Kwale and Taita Taveta counties.

The programme targets counties in the Eastern, Western and coastal regions.

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