HAILSTORM In KENYA

      Tea worth millions of shilling was yesterday destroyed by a hailstorm in Kericho. Farmers at Saoset village are counting. Former deputy chief of general staff Rtd Lt. Gen John Koech’s 21-acre tea plantation was destroyed. A field manager at the Koech Tea farm, Paul Kipruto arap Kitur said, “The heavy rain which was accompanied by hailstones extensively damaged the tea leaves on the farm.” He said farm workers have begun removing damaged tea stems to allow new leaves to sprout. Kitur said the plantation produces up to 2,100 kilo- grammes of tea a day. Anne Mibei, a resident at the village, said the rains have caused havoc and losses to farmers during this planting season. At Finlays tea estate gen- eral manager Kipchumba Bullut said hailstorms are rare during the planting period. He said they normally occur in July or towards the end of the year during relatively dry spells or short rains. Bullut said most of their estates were not severely affected by the hailstorm. An official with the min- istry of agriculture advised farmers to use manure when planting their crops. He said this will help the plants recover faster from the disaster. “It is unfortunate that this has happened but this is the result of global climate changes and farm- ers should be involved in good agricultural practices to avoid heavy losses when such natural disasters oc- cur,” said Bullut. He said farmers need to look into ways of insuring their crops against damage to protect them against losses.

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