Fears of government interference, which has been blamed for the firm’s collapse, sparks opposition.
The planned revival of the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) is yet to take off a year after a presidential directive.
Last September, President Uhuru Kenyatta directed the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Cooperatives to restructure the association and make it a key distributor of quality and affordable farm inputs to farmers.
Peter Munya, then the ministry’s Cabinet Secretary, dissolved the KFA board and appointed a nine-member caretaker board.
The caretaker board was mandated to conduct the affairs of KFA in accordance with the established laws and regulations, verify assets and liabilities of the company, clean up the members’ register, review and amend the by-laws, and formulate a business plan and revival strategy.
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Auditing financial statements
The board was also mandated to update KFA books of accounts and audit its financial statements, reform the firm’s operations, convene and prepare a general meeting to receive, consider and approve accounts and elect a substantive board of directors.
The caretaker board was supposed to support the government in restructuring KFA.
Almost one year after the presidential directive, there has been a stalemate between KFA and the government on how to go around the restructuring programme.
Farmers, who are members of KFA, moved to court and stopped the process through three cases filed in Kapenguria, Nakuru and Kericho high courts.
Kipkorir arap Menjo, one of the representatives of farmers in the caretaker board, said members were skeptical about the government’s role in KFA.
“This does not mean that farmers are opposed to the government directive, but they fear the State might interfere with the management of the organisation like it has happened in the past,” Menjo told The Standard in a telephone interview yesterday.
Menjo said according to the law, KFA is a limited liability company.
Farmers now fear that the government is planning to restructure the association to operate under the Cooperative Act.
“Everyone who knows the history of KFA knows how various government appointees brought the organisation to its knees through interference in the management. We do not want to go down that road again,” he said.
Since its inception in 1923 as a company before being registered as a cooperative in 1932, KFA has undergone a number of changes in its legal status.
The company’s Managing Director, Simon Cherogony, said yesterday that while farmers acknowledged the role of the government in reviving KFA, they wanted the firm to remain a limited liability company.
“Farmers want to have the government goodwill so that KFA can undertake its roles as per the company regulations. We welcome the government to that point,” said Cherogony.
He said before the government appointed the caretaker board, the KFA management had serviced most of the firm’s crippling bank loans, updated members register, complied with government regulations and was in the process of calling an annual general meeting.
“All that we wanted from the government was goodwill to roll out our business plan,” he said.
However, CS Munya insisted that the firm’s former board broke several regulations.
“The board had failed to convene general meetings contrary to Section 27 of the Cooperative Societies Act, failed to present audited accounts to members and failed to file annual returns with the Commissioner for Cooperative Development,” said Munya.
The CS further accused the former board of borrowing in contravention of Rule 34 of the Co-operative Societies Rules, disposing assets without members’ approval and incurring expenditure without approved budgets.