The tea pickers have come back from the fields and they are all crying,” says Festus Mugambi Mimuga. Looking out from his farm in the lowlands of Mount Kenya, around 2,000m up, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is not a place touched by drought. Lush, green tea fields stretch as far as the eye can see, and teem with wildlife. But the late rains have plunged this tropical paradise into crisis.
The country’s “long rains”, an annual 10-week downpour between March and May, are six weeks late. The rivers are low and the soil is too hard to plant crops. For half a million tea farmers in this mountainous region, this is not just a threat to food security, but to their entire way of life.