Rice, potato and banana farmers are among major beneficiaries of President Uhuru Kenyatta's plan to revamp the agriculture sector.
In a speech delivered yesterday at State House, Mombasa, Uhuru directed the National Treasury to release money to help local farmers who often incur huge losses due to lack of market and storage facilities.
“Our potato, banana and rice farmers have been blessed with bumper harvests. And because their products are perishable in nature, they suffer immense losses when they cannot sell them on time,” Uhuru said, clearly capturing the pain local farmers go through as they seek market for their produce.
Based on Uhuru’s directive, rice farmers from Ahero and West Kano irrigation schemes in Kisumu County will no longer suffer from lack of market after a bumper harvest, with the president directing the Treasury to release money to purchase all the rice from Kano Plains.
This came as a huge relief to farmers who have been stuck with the produce after harvesting, besides incurring losses occasioned by erratic weather patterns.
“I have directed that the National Treasury releases Sh660 million to the Kenya National Trading Corporation to purchase all excess rice from Kano Plains and Mwea for onward selling to our disciplined forces, prisons services as well as our boarding schools,” Uhuru said.
Having incurred losses approximated at Sh64 million due to the recent floods that destroyed their crop, rice farmers who spoke to The Standard yesterday, expressed optimism the new directive would give them a new lifeline.
“Many of us have rice in our stores because we have nowhere to take it. Many of us were even contemplating venturing into other crops,” said David Dhine, a director at West Kano rice mill.
Away from the lakeside, banana farmers from Gusii region were also hopeful.
Kisii is one of the three counties that will benefit from the government initiative to build cold storage and processing facilities to save farmers of the perishable commodity from incurring losses.
“I have directed that the National Treasury to release Sh300 million to the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority for the construction of cold storage and processing facilities in Nyandarua, Meru and Kisii,” Uhuru said.