Miraa farmers from the four main growing areas of Meru County have appealed for a speedy operationalisation of a growers sacco.
The farmers drawn from the Igembe North, Igembe South, Igembe South and Tigania East, said they had suffered loss of income for “far too long yet funds to assist us were released a long time ago”.
The Miraa Taskforce Implementation Committee proposes to use sh400 million, out of a sh906 million kitty, as a revolving fund for farmers and traders to get loans.
The three sub counties are largely dependent on miraa, where families, schools, churches and other institutions have invested heavily in its production and sale.
Miraa farmers led by Maore Ngore appealed for operationalisation of the fund for farmers to access credit facility.
“It is over two years since President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Miraa Bill much to the relief of farmers. But it has been an agonising wait because in spite of the fact that he allocated funds to assist us nothing has been forthcoming,” said Ngore, who has over three acres under miraa at Ntunene, Igeme North.
Mr Ngore said the formation and operationalisation of the revolving fund was a matter of urgency as the ban of the crop in overseas market had ‘crippled’ them financially.
“It is important to have the sacco in place so that farmers can benefit. Parents are no longer able to pay school fees promptly. Farmers have opened other businesses including shops. If they access credit to expand the business it will go a long way to addressing the challenges,” Ngore, also a lecturer, said.
He said farmers can borrow from the fund to expand their ventures and pay bacl later from miraa sales.
“But we as farmers wish that the kitty is increased every year because the number of farmers is big. Our call is to the Meru assembly to come up with a law that will empower the county government to set aside funds for miraa development, to supplement the national government’s allocation,” he opined.
Geoffrey Mithika, a farmer at Muringene famed for its high production of miraa, said farmers were growing impatient with delayed implementation of recommendations which include access to funds for improved production and new markets.
“As farmers we have been hearing that funds were released a long time ago but we cannot see the funds. Where are they?” he posed.