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Eradicate grain cartels to help Kenyan farmers

EDITORIAL
By The Standard | July 19th 2016

Kenyan farmers are yet to fully reap the fruits of their labour. Not only do they have to contend with vagaries of nature that make them see all their investments go down the drain, they have to cope with low prices that do not guarantee returns on their original investments.

As if that is not bad enough, farmers in some areas have to do business with cartels that end up reaping where they did not sow as they exploit farmers.

In 2014 for instance, after the Government failed to purchase maize from farmers due to lack of funds, farmers in the Rift valley were forced to sell their maize to cartels at Sh1,500 per 90 kilogramme bag when the Government had announced it would purchase maize at Sh2,300. At the time, a 25 kg bag of fertiliser cost Sh4,500.

To counter the influence of cartels, farmers in the North Rift region have proposed the empowerment of farmers’ institutions to manage the distribution of farm inputs.

While this proposal deserves attention, it might not be the guarantee farmers need to fully benefit. This is because corruption pervades all sectors of society. Nonetheless, players can come up with modalities to make the proposal workable.

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