Tanzania

Easter rains wreak havoc in Meru

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By Hazla Quire

Massive storms have hit hard the Ambureti and Shangarai villages in Meru District, destroying farms and houses and causing great losses to the local residents.

The storms seem to be a curtain raiser to the heavy long rains that have started to in many parts of Arusha, Manyara and Kilimanjaro Regions in the course of this week. The rains have come a bit late in the North as other parts of the country have been experiencing heavy rains for the last three weeks.

A total of ten trading premises, five residential houses and shacks forming the local commodity market in the area have been destroyed by the catastrophic windy rains and nearly eight banana plantations and tree clusters have so far been flattened down in the aftermath.

Mr Erasto Kisetu, popularly known as Mzee Sindeyi is among the victims of the storms having lost nearly four acres of his banana plantation; “I am confused, the bananas were ready for harvest and had planned to cut 1000 bunches of the produce enough to fill two Lorries,” he lamented.

As far as Mzee Sindeyi is concerned, the destroyed bananas would have brought him 10 million/- from a ready market in Arusha which was intending to purchase the whole consignment at the rate of 10,000/- per each of the 1000 bunches.

But the biggest pain is the thought of having to repair the damage through clearing farm and replanting the stalks amid pouring rains. It may take months before everything gets stabilized.

“I have sent reports across nearby villages to come and pick all the bananas to go and eat, free of charge the rest should be given to cattle and the remaining stalks can be spread in farms as organic fertilizers,” said the victim, adding that it will not be easy to even get people to take the bananas because every villager has similar plants lying on their farms.

The Poli Ward Executive Secretary Mr Ndelilio Kaaya said a total of 6000 residents of Shangarai and Ambureni have been affected by the raging storms even though no lives have been lost so far.

“A bunch of bananas used to sell at between 10,000/- and 15,000/- but now following the storms people are clearing their farms by selling a bunch at 300/- and many are even giving the bananas away free of charge,” said Mr Kaaya adding that it will take up to ten months before farmers could restore their farms which means the area is likely to suffer hunger this year.

Regional authorities have already sent a team of experts to take stock on the loss incurred by the farmers in Meru with intention of finding ways of assisting them in one way or another.