- The price of maize and subsidies for farmers among key issues politicians are harping on to attract the farming community ahead of the August 9 polls.
- Under the Maputo Declaration, governments committed themselves to allocate not less than 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture.
The plight of farmers has emerged as a central issue in the ongoing political campaigns in the Rift Valley region.
Deputy President William Ruto and other aspirants are promising to counter some of the challenges in the agriculture sector.
The price of maize, subsidies for farmers and cutting down the cost of farming are some of the key issues which politicians are harping on to attract the farming community ahead of the August 9 polls.
“Its good they are all talking about farmers but we hope this time around its not just talk like has been the case for many years,” David Kiberenge, a representative of the farmers, said.
He said farmers were watching keenly and would only elect leaders who have been committed to helping address the plight of the farmers.
Kiberenge added that there was need to address the issues affecting farmers, including at policy level in government where politicians play a key role.
“We need legislators who will push policy issues aimed at tackling the problems in the agriculture secto,”Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkorir Menjo said.
He said policy issues like implementation of the Maputo Declaration must dealt with to stabilise the sector and improve food production.
Under the Decalration, governments committed themselves to allocate not less than 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture.
“Kenya is yet to achieve that yet it can be done by elected leaders. We have also have weak institutions like NCPB and AFC, among others,which should be strengthened,”Menjo said.
While speaking at the mega rally in Eldoret last Saurday, Ruto promised that if elected he would immediately helped to cut down prices of fertiliser for farmers.
“When I served in the Ministry of Agriculture, we helped reduce prices of fertiliser to about Sh1,500, and after August 9 we will do even better," the DP said.
Governor Jackson Mandago, who will be vying for the Senate in Uasin Gishu, was also among aspirants who said the issues affecting farmers should not be ignored by elected leaders.
Farmers in the region form a large voting bloc hence the keen interest by politicians to woo them ahead of the general election.
Currently farmers are reaping big after maize prices further went up in most parts of Rift valley and Western where middlemen are offering more than Sh3,200 per 90kg bags.
The middlemen increased the prices just two days after the NCPB announced that it would buy a bag of maize at Sh3,000 per bag.
The middlemen have flooded the region to buy the produce from farmers who are yet to start delivering to the NCPB depots.
NCPB chief executive officer Joseph Kimote said they would pay farmers on delivery.
However, some of the farmers, led by Alwin Kisasa, said they want the board to increase the prices further owing to shortage of the commodity because of drought that affected many areas.
A spot check at the depots in Eldoret, Moi’s Bridge and Kitale indicates that a few farmers have begun delivering their produce to the NCPB depots.
(edited by Amol Awuor)