Mooriit arap Sang, a resident of Ainamoi Constituency, Kericho County, informs Public Eye that for a long time, multinational tea estates in his county were used to the rather labour-intensive application of NPK fertiliser on their tea plantations.
In order to cut costs, Arap Sang says, most of the tea firms have now embraced the more cost-effective method of aerial application of the fertiliser. This method involves spreading of fertiliser on farms from an agricultural aircraft.
Although this resident agrees that aerial application of fertiliser has many advantages, he’s, however, concerned by the health effects it has on people living around the tea estates.
“The major problem with this method is the disastrous effect it has on the health of residents,” Sang blankly puts it.
“Our observation is that whenever the fertiliser is applied using planes, residents living within a 30km radius of the area of operation fall ill. They come down with a flu and most of them experience severe sore throats, coughing and those who are asthmatic, have to be hospitalised due to the allergic reaction to the poisonous chemical elements in the fertiliser,” he adds.
Without offering scientific evidence, Sang observes that residents of two counties neighbouring the area of operation have proportionally being diaognised with throat and esophagus cancer in a much higher proportion than people living in the North Rift for instance.
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“It has also been established that the aerial spray by these multinationals is being carried out without the pre-requisite environmental audit assessment as required by law. The local National Environment Management Authority (Nema) office has on many occasions been notified of these concerns but no action has been taken,” a disappointed Sang adds.
Are Nema officials sleeping on the job or are they in bed with owners of this tea farms?
“The residents of South Rift are being slowly dispatched to their graves by the grave impunity of the multinationals who rake in profits at the expense of our lives,” Sang says.
“Please use this forum to plead our case as innocent residents of Kericho and Bomet counties are suffering,” he concludes.