EDITORIAL: Move quickly to curb effects of heavy rains

Editorials

EDITORIAL: Move quickly to curb effects of heavy rains

The heavy rains pounding most parts of the country should be a major concern given the direct threats to farming as well as human safety and health. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The heavy rains pounding most parts of the country should be a major concern given the direct threats to farming as well as human safety and health.

The downpour has so far claimed more than 10 lives while thousands are at risk due to heavy flooding. Large swathes of farmlands have also been soaked by floods and hundreds of livestock killed.

Unfortunately, we haven’t seen decisive steps by the government to handle this situation amid growing frustration among residents of affected areas such as Turkana, Mandera, Marsabit and Mombasa.

The floods have displaced hundreds and left them at risk of contracting deadly diseases such as pneumonia, malaria, cholera, typhoid, dengue fever and dysentery.

It is time the State addressed the plight of the displaced families and provided them with temporary shelter, food and medicine.

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But apart from supporting the households affected by the floods, the State should pay keen attention to threats posed by the heavy rains on the country’s food security.

Reports indicate that the deluge has delayed maize harvesting in the main producing areas in the North Rift. Maize is ready for harvest in Trans-Nzoia and Uasin Gishu counties but heavy rains have hindered harvesting.

This could have dire consequences on the size and quality of harvest because a sizeable portion of the crop is likely to rot away unless handled properly.

Post-harvest losses due to grain contamination remains a major concern in this country. Official estimates by the Agriculture ministry show that up to 30 percent of maize harvest is lost every season due to Aflatoxin contamination.

With the current heavy rains, the risk of grain contamination is very high and the government should take precaution and facilitate proper handling of grain to limit post-harvest losses.

The government departments should mobilise mobile driers and storage facilities across the country to cut post-harvest losses among smallholder farmers who formed the bulk of grain producers.

The National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) could play a major role in protecting the harvests by opening up its depots early enough and allowing farmers to use its drying facilities.

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