Agriculture executive grilled on sh4.3m earthworms project

MCAs say expenditure was not budgeted for

Senior county government officials were yesterday grilled by MCAs over the controversial Sh4.3 million project to rear earthworms and black soldier flies.

Appearing before the County Assembly Agriculture Committee, Agriculture Executive Karwitha Kiugu and Livestock Officer David Mugambi were at pains to explain why the devolved unit spent the funds on a project they had not approved.

Committee chairman Paul Bagine said a report by Auditor General Edward Ouko showed that the amount of money spent on the project had alarmed residents and there was need for the county executive to clear the air.

MCAs questioned the rationale used to initiate a project that was not captured in the Meru County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP).

Nyaki East MCA Robert Kithinji said no money should have been spent on a project “outside of planning framework”.

Prof Karwitha and Dr Mugambi tried, albeit unsuccessfully, to convince the MCAs that it was a viable pilot project designed to increase food production locally.

“Everything must be driven by mwananchi. Did we say we wanted earthworms during public participation?” Municipality MCA Elias Murega asked.

MCAs George Kaliunga (Antubetwe Kiongo), David Kaithia (Akithi) and Kimathi Ithibua (Kiegoi Antubochiu) said the expenditure had not been captured in the budget and there were no consultations before it was rolled out.

But the two officials insisted the project had been factored in the budget under the livestock feeds item.

Karwitha said for the county to enhance production of beef, eggs, milk and fish there was need to pursue alternative and sustainable sources of animal feeds.

She said the county was facing a shortage of animal feeds for farmers, hence the decision to empower farmers to produce own high quality proteins using the earthworms and flies.

“It is the latest technology used as a source of animal feeds,” she said.