Anne Waiguru calls for strict rules on cheap rice imports to shield Mwea farmers from unfair competition

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

Governor Anne Waiguru has urged the government to control importation of cheap rice in order to shield local growers from unfair competition. 

The governor who was addressing a rally in Kiorugari and Kombo-ini in Mwea on Wednesday said that despite the region producing most of the rice in the country, farmers have remained impoverished due to competition from cheap imports. 

She said that rice imports from other countries has led to diminishing prices forcing farmers to dispose of their produce at throw-away price.

“Importation of rice should not be allowed until all local produce is depleted. It is the only way to build our national production sector,” said Waiguru.

The governor said imported rice is normally sold at a cheaper price compared to Mwea pishori variety which has always been in high demand and that unscrupulous traders have found a way of blending the imported rice using the Mwea pishori to give it the much loved aroma. 

She also called for the abolishing of irrigation water tariffs which she said increase the cost of rice production. 

“Implementation of the new Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) tariffs must be stopped and water freely supplied to the farmers since they are taxpayers and fulfilling a duty of feeding the nation. Besides, the new Thiba Dam has increased irrigation water and therefore it doesn’t make sense that anyone should increase water prices,” she added.

If implemented, the new water tariff could see rice farmers pay Sh15,000 per acre of rice, a cost that most of them claim will drive them out of the business.

Waiguru said that her campaign mantra ‘Wira Warie’ which translates to ‘Let the work speak’ resonated well with voters since they are beneficiaries of her development initiatives and projects that are visible across the county. 

“The reason I am asking you to vote for UDA is because the bottom-up economic model seeks to address problems affecting the common man unlike our competitors who want to continue with the trickle-down model which focuses on a few people at the top,” Waiguru explained.