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KNCCI boss calls for rice import ban

Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Richard Ngatia (centre) Chamber Vice President Eric Ruto (right) and the Kirinyaga Chamber Chapter Chairman Waweru Njogu (left) take part in a dance in Kirinyaga East Sub-county. [Munene Kamau, Standard]

A traders' lobby has called for tight control of rice imports into the country from destinations such as Pakistan.

The Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KNCCI), through its president Richard Ngatia said on Saturday that the imported rice is a threat to Kenyan farmers.

Speaking in Mwea town during the Kirinyaga Cultural Festival, Mr Ngatia reckoned that such a move would boost rice production in the country.

Mr Ngatia decried a poor road network in Kirinyaga, especially in  Mwea, Gichugu and Kirinyaga Central Sub-counties as a reason why agricultural output was low.

“Farmers are unable to transport their products to the market therefore limiting the potential of the agriculture sub-sector,” Ngatia said.

He called for improved agricultural value chains for less dominant cash crops such as bananas, tomatoes, French beans, beans, mangoes and maize.

Commenting about the festival, Ngatia said it is a good way for local traders to network.

The festival organised by KNCCI, Kirinyaga Chapter in conjunction with the Njukiine Ward MCA Fredrick Bundi attracted a record 7000 attendants.

Mr Bundi said next year the event will run for a whole week going by the large turn out and assured the residents more attractions will be added to make it more meaningful and relevant to people.

Plan early

This year's festival was a two-day affair.

Kirinyaga Chapter Chamber Chairman Waweru Njogu said his members will from start planning for next year’s event early given the success they have witnessed this year.

Meawhile, KNCCI has told timber merchants who import timber from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), to start planting trees in order to sustain their businesses.

Ngatia said importation of timber from the foreign country was just a short term solution and observed that only tree planning will save the local timber industry.

He said that at one point the largest tropical forest in Africa, the Congo forest, would be depleted just the way Kenyan forests have been depleted

“Since we have many forest areas which have been left bare in this country due to uncontrolled and unregulated tree felling, I'm urging our brothers in the timber industry to start planting trees, ”Ngatia said.

“Importation of timber is just a short term solution. I would want the traders who are our members to embark on massive tree planting which would ensure a sustainable business since timber harvesting will be guaranteed."

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