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Bail out debt-ridden KFA, farmers plead with State

BUSINESS
By KIPCHUMBA KEMEI | November 23rd 2013

By KIPCHUMBA KEMEI

Farmers in Narok County have petitioned the Government to bail out debt-ridden Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) for it to effectively serve their interests.

KFA, they said has infrastructure, adding that its branches and depots in all parts of the country make it capable to undertake supply of affordable farm inputs.

“Unlike the National Cereals and Produce Board, which has no depots all over the country, the association can effectively deal with the distribution of seeds and fertilisers. Before the inception of NCPB, KFA used to serve farmers well,” said John Lolchoki, the chairman of Narok Large Scale Wheat Producers Association.

Most of the association depots, the official added were disused and want the Government to settle the outstanding loans the association owes financial institutions for it to start distributing subsidized farm inputs in the forthcoming planting season, which begins in February.

The farmers reckoned that since the introduction of Government subsidized farm inputs in 2008, the distribution chain had failed farmers, adding that three months before the planting season the inputs have not been availed.

“We abhor monopoly. Agencies and associations like KFA should be given money to directly import fertilisers and procure seeds on behalf of the farmers. The Government should not directly engage in that business, as past experience has shown that it cannot effectively do it because of vested interests and bureaucratic red tape,” explained Lolchoki.

Wheat and maize farmers in the lower Narok and Transmara have already started preparing seed beds ahead of the February planting season, a survey has indicated.

A member of the KFA Board of Directors Kipkorir Menjo said plans were underway to make it revert back to its original mandate of procuring and distributing farm inputs at subsidised prices.

“We have embarked on clearing loans we borrowed from financial institutions for us to go back to our core functions. We have extensive network, which makes it easier for farmers to access our farm inputs,” said Menjo.

He said loans amounting to millions of shillings, which the past directors had borrowed from banks to finance KFA operations stood in the way of reviving the association and asked the Government to support its revival bid.


 

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