21 February 2013

Kenya: Pokot Farmers Count Losses From Fungal Onion Disease

A fungal disease has destroyed more than 1,000 acres of onions in Serelwa, Pokot. Farmers are expressing fear that they will have nothing to harvest as the disease has defied treatment.

"This infection has cost us a lot. None of the treatment has been successful," said Lukia Lokitam, a farmer. The disease has led to the reduction of onion prices at the Ortum market. A 90kg bag of onions now sells at Sh2,000 instead of the usual Sh8,000.

"We spent so much money to prepare the fields and to buy seeds, chemicals and fertiliser as we were expecting a bumper harvest. It is sad that we cannot salvage anything," said Karatulei Lokwang'a.

The farmers are asking the Agriculture ministry to carry out tests on the crops and soil to determine the cause of the disease. Area district agricultural officer David Sondanyi asked the farmers to be patient saying he has sent his officers to carry out the tests. He said he will recommend to the farmers the seed variety they should plant next season.

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