Rice farmers in Ahero irrigation scheme can breathe a sigh of relief now that they are ready to take home a bumper harvest from the rice fields of block A.
This was manifested during the official launch of the harvest by the CEC Member Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Mr Gilchrist Okuom on Friday.
Block A has a total acreage of 285 and the farmers from this block have garnered averagely 30 bags per acre an increase from the previous harvests where they have been getting 20 bags per acre.
This exercise comes after their crops were affected by the hailstorm which caused a major blow to the farmers rendering them unproductive.
In a bid to meet one of the big 4 agenda on food security, The County government partnered with the National Irrigation Authority formerly NIB, to bring back to production the farmers of bocks A, F and G.
The County government pumped in a total of 14million of which 1.5million covers the cost of bailing rice straws and 12.5million to cover the cost of rotavation, transplanting, weeding, fertilizers and harvesting.
The NIB wrote off 5 million loaned to the farmers for seeds, Operations and maintence (O&M) and allowed them back to production in the next crop 66 without upfront payment of O&M and also provided them with seeds.
Speaking to the farmers during the launch of the harvest, the County Director for Agriculture, Mr. Okech noted that inadequate water and hailstorm are challenges likely to reoccur hence insurance was key for sustainable production and that planting a variety that meets the needs of the local market was not optional.
The same sentiments were echoed by the NIB Ahero branch Manager, Mr Joel Tanui who stated that “We can’t afford to go back to what we faced recently” hence it was clear that insurance was the way to go. He also assured them of a ready market for the Basmati variety that would be bought by the lake Basin Development Authority.
He said that out of the 14 million invested in the production by the County government, a return of 56million is expected after the harvest, and that as NIB they plan to expand irrigation within the County to a tune of 150 million especially considering to change the mindset of farmers in Muhoroni to diversify crop production.
The County Minister for Agriculture on his part called on farmers to learn to do farming differently from what was done in the past. He emphasized the incorporation of three key issues namely: insuring their farms to mitigate unforeseen calamities, forming cooperatives that will give them bargaining power for funds allocation and mechanized farming to boost production and productivity.
Also present were the MCA Awasi Hon. Ngeta standing in for the area MCA, Hon. Vitalis Otura,the Sub county agricultural officer Mr. Arthur Hongo, Ward agricultural officer, Esther Onyango, and agricultural Officer from the County headquarters, Mr Domnic among other guests.