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Most farmers feel the squeeze of pandemic, says study

By Mwangi Mumero
Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020
An elderly man undergoes a COVID-19 nasal swab test. Photo/Courtesy
In summary

DISTRESS: At least 86 per cent of Kenyan farmers are worse off compared to last year mainly due to the coronavirus pandemic, a new report indicates.

Data from 60 Decibels, a technology-enabled impact measurement company, says as many as one-third of agricultural households are in economic distress – several forced to sell some assets or take a loan to remain afloat.

Falling demand for livestock and crop produce coupled with rising costs of raw materials and farm inputs has hit farmers hard.

Commodity prices have also been on a downward trend worsening their situation.

Falling prices

The report says the farmers are economically squeezed by decreasing demand for their produce and livestock, falling prices and rising raw material and supply costs.

“Since agriculture dominates the Kenyan economy and employs approximately 75 per cent of the workforce, the ability of farmers to weather the pandemic storm is vital to Kenya’s future economic outlook,” Venu Aggarwal, agriculture director at 60 Decibels observed,.

The situation, she added, has deteriorated for many farmers in the country. Kenyan farmers are being forced to make adjustments to cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic, the report notes.

Overall, 90 per cent of the farmers have reduced the number of people hired on the farm.

Consequently, many report having to involve more of their family members in the farm business.

In at least one source of income, the available data  shows 17 per cent of farmers report a decline in earnings.        

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