Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya yesterday moved to implement new measures spelt out by the president to improve the fortunes of farmers.
A day after he was transferred from the Ministry of Industrialisation to take over from the sacked Mwangi Kiunjuri, Mr Munya directed the Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) to start purchasing milk from farmers at Sh33 per litre, up from Sh27.
Munya also revealed plans to have coffee farmers deliver their cherries directly to Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) millers or other processors in a contractual agreement with KPCU to avoid exploitation by middlemen.
The coffee regulations, he said during a presser at Kilimo House, would take effect once a public participation exercise on the proposed changes was completed.
In the changes, farmers will be paid 40 per cent of the value of their cherries delivered to the mills while the remaining amount will be paid through the ordinary channels, including savings and credit cooperative societies (Saccos).
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“We don’t want intermediaries to pay coffee farmers any longer,” said Munya, who added that farmers’ loans would be deducted in the process.
The CS promised that his ministry would also audit Saccos to check whether their operations were above board.
“Some of the cooperatives are struggling with debts because they are not viable,” said Munya, who warned that they faced closure.
Struggling cooperatives normally have few members and a bloated workforce, resulting in high recurrent costs that eat into farmers’ income.
As part of his plan to "deal with cartels out to fleece farmers" Munya said all agencies buying rice were limited to sourcing the commodity from the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC). “Rice from outside is no longer allowed. All agencies must purchase rice from KNTC."
He said changes in the tea sector would include promoting transparency at the auction in Mombasa.
“It is possible that there could be collusion between large players at the auction who buy the produce at a low price when the international market is indicating the price to be high. We shall address that,” said Munya.
The CS further said his ministry would focus on value addition, with investors expected in the country next week to execute the plan.
“We shall also help Kenya Tea Development Authority factories to have lines that process other varieties that are fetching high prices as compared to black tea."
Munya also weighed in on the locust invasion and said that the government had set aside Sh230 million to aid the fight against the pests.
The money will cater for surveillance and aerial spraying of the swarms that have been sighted in Mandera, Wajir, Marsabit, Garissa, Isiolo, Meru, Samburu and Laikipia.