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Coffee farmers count losses as cold bites and rain fails




A coffee farmer tending to her crops. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Coffee farmers in Kirinyaga County are counting losses due to an unusually cold weather.

Farmers in the area lost almost half of the entire season’s crop to the cold.

Bernard Kathanga, a farmer, said he lost an entire crop even after spraying it with recommended chemicals.

“I spent a lot of money on spraying but I still lost the entire crop. I have invited experts from the Ruiru based Coffee Foundation to come over and graft my trees with the disease resistant variety to avoid such a disaster in future,” he said.

“The prolonged cold spell (from June to the beginning of October) coupled with delayed short rains are the main factors for the crop shedding leaves and leaving unripe berries exposed to lack of chlorophyll,” County Director for Agriculture Bernard Mukungo said.

The official advised farmers to apply Calcium Ammonium Nitrates (CAN) fertiliser which boosts leaf regeneration. Mr Mukungo told farmers to spray their crops with foliar feeds once the leaves start regenerating to hasten ripenning of berries.

In Getuya village, Kirinyaga West Sub-County, farmers were disappointed when berries failed to ripen due to the cold weather.

“This is the harvesting season but my entire crop is still having green berries which have failed to ripen,” said Mwai Njogu. Caroline Njeri from Gatunguru village said her crop could not ripen despite spraying and applying recommended farm inputs.

The phenomenon cut across the coffee growing zone in the county raising fears that the 30 million kilogrammes of cherry that farmers deliver every year will not be realised.