WANTS STATE TO INTERVENE

Coffee sector woes to blame for poor schooling in Nyeri — Senator

Farmers can no longer afford to pay fees as a result of the collapse of the cherry, tea and milk sectors

In Summary

• Maina said that though Mathira constituency was known to be an academic giant in the county, the area no longer boasts of academic excellence.

• The legislator called on the government to rescue the farmers. Already, five wet coffee mills have collapsed in Mathira, he said.

DP William Ruto, Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Nyeri senator Ephraim Maina in Nyeri on Tuesday
DP William Ruto, Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Nyeri senator Ephraim Maina in Nyeri on Tuesday
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI

The falling standards of education in Nyeri county is linked to the challenges affecting tea, coffee and milk farmers, Senator Ephraim Maina has said. 

Maina said farmers can no longer afford to pay fees as a result of the collapse of the three sectors.

 He said that though Mathira constituency was known to be an academic giant in the county, the area no longer boasts of academic excellence.

 

The legislator called on the government to rescue the farmers. Already, five wet coffee mills have collapsed in Mathira, he said.

Maina said other than poor coffee prices, production has also dwindled and the harvest is now a shadow of its former self.

The senator said the milk and tea sectors were also affected as cartels have taken over, leaving farmers with peanuts.

“Farmers have cows that can produce 30 to 40 litres of milk but they only get a meagre Sh17 per litre of milk which cannot even break even,” Maina said. 

Following the high cost of production and low returns, he said, farmers have resorted to selling their dairy cows to butchers at throwaway prices.

The senator spoke during the funeral of Martha Gachagua. The mother of Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagua and first Nyeri Governor the late Nderitu Gachagua died at 89. 

Maina urged the National Assembly Budget Committee to set aside some money in the June budget to support agriculture.

 

“In the June budget, without any reservations, let’s give agriculture first priority because Kenya thrived when Agriculture was being prioritised,” he said.

Maina said the only way to revitalise the agriculture sector is to embrace Guaranteed Minimum Return (GMR) regulation which he said was tried and succeeded during president Kenyatta’s time.

He told politicians to tone down on politics and better the lives of Kenyans because they will have no time to listen to politics if they are hungry.

“I want to beseech all in the Jubilee government to come together and try to make Kenya go back to where it was,” he said.

The lawmaker also faulted the government’s move to impose a three per cent tax on traders operating small and mid-sized businesses. The traders will be paying the tax to KRA on their sales.  

The Finance Act 2019 was signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta on November 7, last year.

The legislator said small and mid-sized business operators have no turnovers and most of them survive from hand to mouth. Taxing them will sound the death knell to the traders, he said.

Deputy President William who was present at the funeral blamed the low milk prices on those importing the product from neighbouring countries.

Ruto said farmers have been selling their milk at Sh20 per litre yet the production cost of a litre of milk is Sh29.

“A lot of milk is coming to Kenya from other countries that are not necessarily produced in our neighbouring countries,” he said.

The DP said to address the problem, the government will start taxing eggs and milk from neighbouring countries and protect the market for local farmers.

Ruto said to address the milk problem, the national government is also working with the county government to acquire milk coolers to reduce the perishability of milk.

On coffee, the DP said the government is looking for a bigger market.

He also said regulations have been approved in the Cabinet and will be taken to Parliament so that the Sh3 billion cherry fund can start benefitting farmers.

(O.O)

DP William Ruto, Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Nyeri senator Ephraim Maina in Nyeri on Tuesday
DP William Ruto, Chinga MCA Kiruga Thuku, Kikuyu MP Kimani Ichung’wa and Nyeri senator Ephraim Maina in Nyeri on Tuesday
Image: EUTYCAS MUCHIRI