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DP Ruto renews call to maize farmers to diversify

Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, DP Ruto and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa at the Catholic Diocese of Kitale in Trans Nzoia county on Sunday, December 16, 2018. /DPPS
Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, DP Ruto and Kiminini MP Chris Wamalwa at the Catholic Diocese of Kitale in Trans Nzoia county on Sunday, December 16, 2018. /DPPS

Deputy President William Ruto has criticised politicians against his call to maize farmers to diversify.

“If someone tells you to rely on one crop, that person is misleading you. We must think about diversification," he said.

“We must change our ways. We cannot be fighting year in year out over the price of maize. We must find how we will ensure we have food and crops that earn us money as well.”

Ruto spoke at Kitale Showgrounds in Trans Nzoia county during the Kitale Catholic Diocese family day where leaders raised concerns over the low price of maize.

He was accompanied by Senate Speaker Kenneth Lusaka, governors Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), MPs Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma County), Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Paul Katana (Kaloleni) and Lilian Tomito (West Pokot).

In November, three Rift Valley MPs triggered a political storm after publicly claiming in the Republic of Congo.

In a scathing attack on the DP, the rebel Jubilee lawmakers claimed Ruto was positioning himself to be the principal maize supplier to the scandal-ridden National Cereals and Produce Board by discouraging the region from maize farming.

MPs Joshua Kutuny (Cherangany), Alfred Keter (Nandi Hill) and Silas Tiren (Moiben) claimed Ruto has been encouraging farmers to substitute maize farming with avocado and macadamia.

"You can’t be telling us to plant avocados, plant macadamia but you are not telling us what happened to maize…Now you have gone even to Congo. You are growing 500,000 acres of maize," said Keter without producing any evidence to back his claims.

Khaemba said he had faced opposition from leaders in the county who have been telling farmers not to “abandon” maize farming for other alternatives.

The Deputy President told farmers to consider investing in tea, coffee, avocado, macadamia and dairy farming to supplement the cash they earn from maize farming.

He said the diversification programme was in line with the government's Big Four food security agenda, citing the recent Blue Economy Conference that seeks to explore marine food.

Ruto said the government will give Trans Nzoia county 35 milk coolers to boost dairy farming in the region.

He said the government is ready to work with all elected leaders, irrespective of their political affiliation.

He appealed to elected leaders to shun "petty politics" and focus on serving Kenyans.

“As leaders we have all united irrespective of our political parties; we are now one team focused on serving Kenyans,” Ruto said.

Khaemba said his office and Trans Nzoia county assembly are focused on developing the county in partnership with the national government.