By PATRICK KIBET
Pyrethrum farmers want the Government to form two new bodies to handle the regulatory and commercial functions respectively.
The two functions are currently handled by Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, which, under the current Pyrethrum act, is the only entity authorised to license, buy and process flowers from farmers and carry out research.
The act gave the board immense powers and made PBK a monopoly in the industry as the only processor allowed to deal with pyrethrum in the country. Last year Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni brought Pyrethrum Bill, 2011 with the main objective of amending the Pyrethrum Act (Cap. 340) in order to remove the obstacle of the monopoly.
Samuel Kihia, the chair of the Nakuru County Pyrethrum Growers Association said that farmers were not involved in the drafting of the current Bll and have proposed a raft of amendments.
The farmers want regulatory function undertaken by Pyrethrum Regulatory Authority, whereas the commercial function retained by Pyrethrum board of Kenya limited to be fully owned by farmers.
The Pyrethrum Bill 2011 — currently in its second reading — had proposed that all the funds, assets and other property, both movable and immovable held by PBK be transferred to the Pyrethrum Regulatory Authority. But farmers want the assets and liabilities be transferred to pyrethrum board of Kenya limited under the companies act, to enable it carry out the functions of a commercial processor.
“This body shall be a custodian of all assets currently held by PBK and will hold all assets and liabilities,” said Kihia.
The farmers also want the management of the entity to be based on regional representation to allow inclusion of farmers in decision-making. They further propose 11 directors, eight of which will be drawn from pyrethrum growing zones, with the other three seats reserved for the PS agriculture, Industrialisation and CEO, who will be ex-officio member of the board.
The current pyrethrum act only allows the board PBK to appoint and employ agents to carry out its functions on terms and conditions determine time to time. The farmers also want the Bill to mandate individuals and companies seeking to process pyrethrum to either own nucleus estate or have a valid contract with farmers for not less than 2,000 acres.