Tobacco farmers in Migori have appealed to the county government to seek investors to build a processing plant.
Through their union, Kenya Tobacco Farmers Association, they said it would boost the county’s economy.
“It is unacceptable that 20,000 tobacco farmers of 35,000 nationally come from this county yet we don’t have a processing plant. Establishment of a processing plant in Migori will not only increase revenue but also increase employment,” Ketofa Chief Executive Officer Joseph Wanguhu said.
He said currently, there are only British America Tobacco in Thika and Mastermind in Nairobi.
“Annually, Kenya produces over 22,000 metric tons of tobacco with Migori County contributing 16,000 tons even though farmers are yet to find any direct benefit from the cash crop,” Mr Wanguhu said.
He said the high cost of transporting tobacco to Nairobi has been left to to farmers to bear hence diminishing their pay at the end of the day.
He was speaking in Migori town after meeting hundreds of farmers from Kuria and Migori, who urged local politicians to speed up their pledges.
“We need our interests protected through the County Government by building better infrastructure and establish the firm which has to be partly owned by local farmers through shareholding,” said Mr Chacha Magaiwa, a farmer.
Wanguhu and Magaiwa also urged business people to invest in the sector nationally to increase competition.
“Investors in this sector will increase competition because currently the three investors pay poorly. There are some cases where farmers have not been paid for a year even after making deliveries to the companies,” he added.
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