Maize or avocados: which way for North Rift farmers?
SEE ALSO :On leadership, women should change tactA section of leaders are determined to convince farmers that avocados, mangoes, tomatoes, potatoes and cabbages are better alternatives. This comes in the wake of the NCPB scandal in which unscrupulous maize traders were paid billions of shillings as ordinary farmers cried out for their payments. Speaking during the ongoing Nakuru International Investment Conference 2018 in Naivasha on Friday, the DP said: “I heard some people say the other day that they are not interested in diversification because you cannot put avocados in a store or you cannot feed initiates on avocados,” in an apparent reference to a statement by Ainabkoi lawmaker William Chepkut who last week claimed that ‘Kalenjin initiates cannot feed on avocados.’ The DP added: “People are producing for markets to export while others are thinking of how to produce to go and put in a store. That is how low some people think in our country.” Speaking in Tharaka Nithi on Saturday, Mr Ruto said he has agreed with the President Uhuru Kenyatta to enter ties with China and India with a view of opening up markets for new crops.
SEE ALSO :We must save Kenyan maize farmersThe statement came a day after Senate Majority Leader Kipchumba Murkomen said that farmers would be better off exploring other crops instead of relying on maize, which some leaders claim has been infiltrated by cartels. Among those opposed to the diversification call is Cherangany MP Joshua Kuttuny, who termed it ‘misplaced’ and meant to kill the local economy. “Farmers do not have facilities to preserve avocados when they are ripe. They are not like maize which you can store for three years when there is no market,” said Mr Kuttuny. Other opponents of diversification include MPs Silas Tiren (Moiben), his Nandi Hills counterpart Alfred Keter and North Rift Kenya Farmers Association Director Kipkorir arap Menjo. “How will I survive as a wait for the avocado trees to mature? Wondered Sheila Koech, a maize farmer in Elgeyo Marakwet.