Likuyani, Lugari farmers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic

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Mrs. Alice Ombima in her kitchen garden

Agricultural activities have been negatively impacted in Likuyani and Lugari sub counties following the outbreak of Coronavirus in the country with peasant farmers being greatly affected. 

A spot check by West Media had revealed the majority of the peasant farmers are unable to meet the costs and are yet to plant on their farms while a few who managed buy seeds have planted without fertilizer. 

According to Ms. Susy Khakali, a Groots Kenya champion in charge of Likuyani most of the peasants farmers in the area are facing financial constrain and can’t afford to purchase farm inputs.

She said majority of them depended on casual labor by working for large scale farmers in the area so that they could get money to purchase seeds and fertilizer but with the outbreak of the Covid-19 large scale farmers are not allowing huge number of laborers on their farm in line with social distancing directive to curb the spread of coronavirus.

Ms. Khakali says not only are they unable to plant their farms but also putting food on table is also another problem facing peasant farmers in the region.

“Most of these peasant farmers live from hand to mouth and with the current situation it’s not only a problem for them to buy farm inputs but they are also facing a challenge to get food,” said Khakali.

She said for few larger scale farmers who are offering opportunity to laborers are strictly adhering to government directive that require them to put on masks which she say its proving costly to the low earners.

Khakali’s sentiments were echoed by her Lugari counterpart Mrs. Alice Ombima who said some of the farmers rely on their children working in various part of the country but with the outbreak of the coronavirus that has led to closure of many work places, they have not been able to receive any support.

“Some of the farmers were depending on their sons and daughters  to help them plough their farms and even buy farm inputs but due to the current situation resulting from the coronavirus some of their children have lost their jobs thus there is no support and in fact some of the children have been locked in towns like Nairobi and Mombasa and instead are asking for help from their parents,” said Mrs. Ombima

She added that with the dwindling economy even the large scale farmers have been unable to pay laborers working on their farm.

Despite the county government of Kakamega giving seeds at a subsidized price, a spot check in various stores and agricultural offices have revealed that there are still hundreds of unpurchased bags of fertilizers compared to previous years where the supply has never been enough thus a clear indication that more farmers have not been able to buy fertilizer this year.

The two champions for transformative leadership under Groots Kenya have appealed for the government’s intervention and support for farmers by giving them inputs, saying if the current situation is not checked millions of Kenyans are faced with starvation once the fight again the disease is over.

Groots Kenya is a national movement of grassroots women led community based organization and Self Help Group which is charged with facilitation of grassroots women to effectively engagement in development through movement building, leadership and advocacy trying to sensitize and empower the farmers to put up kitchen gardens to help them.

“We are encouraging farmers that though the situation is tough they should at least plant something to feed their families,” said Mrs. Ombima.