Rice production from the Tebere Irrigation Scheme is expected to drop this season due to paddy invasion by snails and shortage of fertiliser.
During this planting season more than 500 acres in different sections of the scheme have been invaded by the pests that are destroying the rice since March this year with farmers left dumbfounded without any solution at hand.
Farmers say they have been looking for a solution to the menace for the last five months without success.
They say the pests are destroying their rice in nurseries and during the process of transplanting it into the irrigation fields.
A farmer Joseph Mwangi says they have tried various pesticides but to no avail. “Those we have called to address the problem say there is no pesticide to deal with the menace,” he said.
Mwangi however said they are now working with research organisations in trying to address the crisis.
He said the farmers worries have been worsened by the fact that the snails are breeding very fast
Mwangi said farmers are also facing a challenge in selling their produce after Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose Sacco stopped procurement of their produce at Sh 85 per kilo as directed by President Uhuru.
The stoppage he said has forced farmers to retain their stock and are now out of desperation turning to the cartels who often take advantage of the poor farmers and exploit them
Former Mwea MP Peter Gitau said the failure by the Saaco to buy the rice from the small scale farmers has made the cartels to come back who are now buying rice at a cheaper price.
Gitau said the ordinary farmer is not a beneficiary from the Sh85 price presidential directive
The farmers further grieve that the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary has failed to fully implement the directives by President Uhuru Kenyatta to increase the price of the unprocessed rice from Sh45 to 85 per kilogram.
Gitau called on all the leaders in Kirinyaga County to unite and ensure rice farmers benefit from the directive issued by the president during his Kirinyaga tour in March this year.
By Irungu Mwangi