• Tea farmers have been uprooting bushes because they are losing money.
• Dairy farmers are pouring out excess milk because of oversupply, compounded by milk imports.
Farmers have welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta's orders to reform and revive the agriculture sector, including tea and dairy farming.
They said on Tuesday they're glad former Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri has been removed and replaced by former Trade CS Peter Munya. They said they hope he will tackle problems they have been facing due to lack of government intervention
Dairy farmers said controls on milk imports would help revive the sector.
Prices of milk had dropped to as low as Sh15 per litre in most areas as a result of high production and increased imports of milk.
Uhuru directed the Treasury to give New KCC Sh500 million to purchase milk from farmers and convert it to powder.
Farmers said they hoped new KCC would absorb the excess milk that has been going to waste.
“We had very high production due to heavy rains and milk imports had worsened the situation, pushing milk prices too low. The new measures will save the dairy sector,” Trans Nzoia farmer Thomas Kibetet said.
Stephen Mugwira, a large-scale dairy farmer in Eldoret, asked Uhuru to follow up and ensure cartels are removed the agriculture sector as they have frustrated farmers for many years.
Tea farmers in Nandi led by Benjamin Leting said they were uprooting tea plants due to reduced earnings from the crop but said the President's measure had given them hope.
“Most of us had already started uprooting tea bushes because it was waste to have them unless the changes the President announced are implemented."
He said the removal of brokers from the tea chain was of great benefit to farmers. “The brokers have for so many years been earning more than the farmers and it's welcome news the cartels have to be dismantled," he said.
Nandi farmer Jane Kirui said tea prices had dropped to an all-time low making it a complete waste to grow tea.
In Nandi, tea farmers said they were paid about Sh15 per kilogramme by KTDA, while multinational tea firms pay Sh21 to Sh23 per kg minus the bonuses.
“Over a few years the prices have dropped by more than 60 per cent and the majority of us had given up. We were thinking of alternative ways to earn a living but not growing tea,” Kirui said.
Director of the Kenya Farmers Association Kipkorir Menjo said the President had given farmers an opportunity to push for better policies that would turn around the agriculture sector.
“He should widen the changes to cover all key sectors in agriculture so all farmers benefit," Menjo said.
(Edited by V. Graham)