Give farmers subsidies, says Senator Maina

Corruption remains the key contributor to the dwindling fortunes for farmers.

In Summary

• Farmers are abandoning agriculture due to  very low returns

• Basic foodstuffs including eggs, fruits and maize are being imported from neighbouring countries. 

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina.
Senator Maina Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina.
Image: FILE

Nyeri Senator Ephraim Maina has urged the government to consider introducing subsidies for farmers.

This, he said, will revive the agriculture sector and arrest the new trend of having basic farm products such as eggs, onions, fruits, milk and maize being imported from the neighbouring countries.

In an interview with the Star yesterday, the Senator called for a re-look into the agriculture management structure.

He said it was a pity that structures that were there for farming and marketing of prime farm produce such as coffee, sugarcane and cotton have since collapsed.

“Societies that were managing the coffee sector, for instance, have been turned to places of frustration and misery for farmers,” he said.

The Senator said that drought has ravaged livestock farmers with no permanent solution.

Less endowed countries, Maina said, such as Botswana have bagged the lucrative beef market in the European market attributing it to robust agriculture management by their governments.

Also, Ethiopia has been expanding the coffee export share in the international market, yet local coffee farmers, particularly in the central region, have been uprooting the crop due to poor returns.

Maina said in cases like the dairy sector, the cash the farmer is paid for every litre of milk delivered cannot cater for the farming expenses.

This, he said, is forcing some farmers to go back to their pockets to finance their farming.  

On average, farmers are currently being paid Sh30 per litre of delivered milk yet processed milk retails at between Sh50 and Sh60 for a half-litre packet.

“That is why you see farmers abandoning their farming. This is a big risk because the are pushing up the rate of unemployment,” he said.

The senator said corruption was the biggest contributor to the problems facing the agriculture sector.

He added that realisation of the Big 4 Agenda that encompasses food security, affordable housing, manufacturing, and affordable healthcare for all will remain a pipe dream unless agriculture sector is fully revived.

(edited by O. Owino)