Farmers in North Rift have protested plans by the government to privatize state corporations including New Kenya Cooperative Creameries (KCC) and Kenya Seed Company (KSC).
Through their representatives the farmers said New KCC and KSC are the most active agricultural agencies and privatizing them could have a negative economic impact and hurt the country’s food security.
The farmers instead urged the government to support the process of reverting New KCC to dairy producers saying they had invested heavily through a capital levy charged on their supplies over the years.
Farmers representatives who included former KCC Chairman Maj (Rtd) Augustine Cheruiyot, Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) director Kipkorir Menjo, Tom Nyagechanga, the Kenya National Farmers Federation (Kenaff), commodity representative Trans Nzoia, Stanley Ngombe, the Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation (KDFF), Phillip Bittok and Rael Boit urged the state not to privatize the agencies.
“Privatization of New KCC and KSC is not ideal for the farming sector in the country. New KCC has been 100 per cent farmer-owned and the only resources the state has injected is Sh547 million to bail out those who had taken over the cooperative after it was mismanaged,” stated Menjo.
He said the late former President Mwai Kibaki was instrumental in the revival of New KCC and promised to revert it to dairy farmers.
Speaking after a meeting in Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu county yesterday, Menjo urged President William Ruto’s administration to conclude the process of handing the dairy processor back to its farmers.
He explained that KSC is a strategic institution that guards the country’s food situation through the production and distribution of certified crop seeds.
“Those pushing for the privatization of these institutions have commercial interests. The government should instead privatize corporations that are making huge losses instead of targeting well-performing agricultural bodies,” said Menjo.
Cheruiyot said: “New KCC was founded in 1923 by colonial white farmers and has since grown until its collapse due to mismanagement years after independence. It has enormous assets owned by farmers who contributed through capital levies deducted from their milk supplies.”
He said the dairy processor will be well managed once it is reverted to farmers – who are the original owners.
“New KCC assets are enormous and include land, factories, cooling plants spread across the country including in Miritini, Eldoret, Kapsabet, Kisumu, Runyenjes, Nanyuki, Iten, and even a building in Kampala, Uganda,” said Cheruiyot.
“The creamery has 40 acres of land in Dandora, that was valued at over Sh4 billion over a decade ago. If the creamery is privatized, how will these assets be sold?” He posed.
Cheruiyot argued that if New KCC is reverted to farmers, the government can have some shares to help in supervising and protecting it to perform well for the interest of farmers.
Ngombe said farmers will be demoralized if New KCC and KSC are privatized.
“New KCC should be handed back over to farmers through shareholding in cooperative societies,” he said.
Nyagechanga noted that the Kibaki administration revived New KCC after its collapse and it was given a facelift through the modernization of facilities during former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration.
“We thought through its bottom-up economic ideals, President Ruto’s administration would empower farmers to own their creamery by reverting it back to them,” he said.
Boit appealed to elected leaders in North Rift to support farmers to have the dairy processor reverted back to them.