(Xinhua) -- Kenyan crop and
livestock farmers are grappling with a myriad of
diseases resulting from adverse weather conditions
brought about by the rains.
It has been raining
in the East African nation since March and Kenya’s
Meteorological Department has said the heavy rains would
go on until next month, adding more pressure on farming.
Crop farmers are grappling mainly with blight and
The diseases have attacked coffee, tomatoes, onions
and potatoes pushing up the cost of production for
Even as they save on irrigation water, the farmers
have to invest heavily in pesticides to fight the
diseases and others to avoid losses.
The two diseases are a huge threat to the crops
because they lead to 100 percent loss if not checked.
"I have grown tomatoes on half-acre.
"Last month when it was raining heavily, the crop was
attacked by blight and I had to spray consistently to
save it because it had started fruiting,"
Joseph Gitau, who grows the crop in Juja, told Xinhua
The farmer who works as an auditor in Nairobi said
eradicating the crop became difficult because the rain
washed away the chemicals.
"I am not going to harvest much this season because
the rains destroyed some fruits and some flowers also
"This is a bad season for me," he said.
The blight has attacked coffee in main production
areas in central Kenya threatening the cash crop that is
exported in markets in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
Farmers in Nyeri, Murang’a and Kiambu are currently
grappling with the disease, which they say is attacking
their crop for the first time in years.
"It is the first time I am seeing it since I started
farming coffee 10 years ago.
"We have been asked to use certain chemicals to save
the crop," said Moses Karanja, a coffee farmer.
The disease, according to farmers in central Kenya,
was prevalent in other areas including Nakuru and Trans
However, excess rainfall in the area led to its
"This is new disease in the region.
"I am calling it new because it is the first time it
is being heard of in Nyeri," said Karanja.
Caroline Wandia, an agronomist in Nyeri, said
bacterial blight in coffee is normally favored by cool,
"Normally, lesions appear on leaves with water soaked
margins when the infection begins.
"The leaves eventually dry up and roll inwards as
they turn brown," she said.
She added that the same symptoms are observed with
tomatoes, onions and potatoes when attacked by blight.
"The brown, dried leaves normally do not shed but
remain attached to the plant.
Sometimes the leaves appear like they have been
scorched by fire," she said.
For livestock farmers, the rainy season comes along
with coccidiosis, pneumonia and Rift Valley Fever, among
others. Coccidiosis affects mainly chicken, pigs, sheep
On the other hand, sheep and goats and even chickens
are prone to pneumonia, with a number of farmers
"I lost my five goat kids last week to pneumonia.
"They were rained on and after two days, they
developed the disease.
"It was too late when the vet arrived," said Jackson
Mutisya, a farmer in Kangundo, on the outskirts of
Several cases of the deadly Rift Valley Fever have
been reported in the East African nation.
The disease affects cattle, sheep and goats and also
The government on Saturday last week issued an alert
on the disease, citing possible outbreak due to the
rains. Mosquitos spread the Rift Valley Fever virus, and
with the rains, the insects multiply faster.
Veterinary services director Obadiah Njagi and
medical services director Jackson Kioko said in
statement that the weather conditions are ideal for
mosquito breeding and increase the risk of Rift Valley
Fever outbreak in Wajir, Garissa, Tana River, Malindi,
Kwale, Laikipia and Kajiado.
The major outbreak in Kenya was reported in 2006/2007
following prolonged rain. At least 160 people died and
the livestock sector lost about 40 million dollars,
according to official figures.
Kenya to increase
access of certified seeds to boost potato production
NAIROBI (Xinhua) --
Kenya plans to increase access of
certified seeds to small scale farmers in order boost
potato production, a senior government official said on
Mwangi Kiunjuri, the Cabinet Secretary of the
Ministry of Agriculture, told an agricultural forum in
Nairobi that in order for the potato sub-sector to play
its rightful role in economic development, the
forthcoming Agriculture Sector Transformation and Growth
Strategy (ASTGS) has identified very specific
interventions that include investments in potato seeds,
production and multiplication.
"We want to increase supply of certified seed potato
as well as strengthen certification services to small
scale farmers so that we double the value of the
country’s potato production
that currently stands at 500 million U.S. dollars
annually," Kiunjuri said during the third Annual
National Potato Conference and Trade Fair.
The daylong event was organized by the National
Potato Council of Kenya which brought together
policymakers and the private sector to review ways to
enhance value addition in the potato sector.
The task of expanding the country’s potato production
will be spearheaded by the National Potato
Transformation Technical Working Group.
Kiunjuri said Kenya’s potato is dependent on the
small holder farmers who contribute about 90 percent of
The Ministry of Agriculture has identified potato as
one of the key crops that can effectively complement
maize as a driver of the food and nutrition security.
Kiunjuri said potato is the second most important
food crop after maize and is both a staple food and a
cash crop for many rural and urban families.
Richard Lesiyampe, the Principal Secretary of the
Ministry of Agriculture said potato farmers typically
get poor returns as a result of the high cost of
production, uncoordinated marketing activities as well
as poor road infrastructure.
Lesiyampe said the ministry of agriculture, working
together with country governments and the private sector
expects to make interventions in the potato value chain
that includes harmonization of legislation and
regulation on potato weights and measures at the retail