Nyeri County has experienced total crop failure for four seasons due to erratic weather.
But that did not deter them from trying again. Ms Mary Mwangi, for instance, said she planted maize in readiness for the long rains. “They have wilted because of the scorching sun,” she lamented.
Last week, the county received heavy rain for half a day, giving the farmers hope. “The rain cheated us. We went back to plant, but it has stopped and we have no food. And the price of everything has shot up,” Ms Mwangi said.
In Meru County, farmers who had planted expecting the long rains to start on March 15 are counting their losses.
Mr Japhet Mwongera, a farmer in Imenti North, said he had planted maize and beans and spent over Sh10,000 preparing his farm, yet the seeds did not germinate.
Mr Silas Mugendi, a farmer in Mitheru village in Tharaka-Nithi County, planted after a recent downpour, but his crops have since dried up.
“I thought it was the appropriate time to plant after it rained heavily, but I didn’t know that it would last only a day,” he said.
In the North Rift, maize farmers are counting their losses after most of the their seeds failed to germinate. Most of the farmers have been forced to plant afresh.
Mr Peter Kutit, a large-scale seed grower, said that half of his 400 acres of seed maize had been destroyed by the drought.
He noted that the weather reports keep changing, and that farmers are not sure of getting enough rain this year.
“The cost of production has gone up by 100 per cent because we have to replant. We had prepared the land using expensive fertiliser. Unfortunately, the rains have not come and a lot of crops have not germinated,” Mr Kutit said at his farm in Birunda,
Mr William Koros from Endebess, Trans-Nzoia County, projected that maize production will be almost nil this year since most farmers did poorly in the early March to May planting season.
“A farmer who planted at that particular time has registered total failure. And because of the prices the government was offering maize farmers last year, most of them sold their produce at throwaway prices of between Sh1,000 and Sh1,600 per bag,” he said.
By Benson Amadala, Pauline Kairu, Barnabas Bii, Leopold Obi, Irene Mugo, Stanley Kimuge, Gitonga Marete, Nyambega Gisesa, Alex Njeru and Gerald Bwisa