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December 12, 2018

Kiraitu to Kiunjuri: Tell Miraa farmers whereabouts of Sh2.2bn bailout cash

Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi distributes macadamia seedlings to farmers at Gitoro ASK Showgroung on Friday last week. /DENNIS DIBONDO
Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi distributes macadamia seedlings to farmers at Gitoro ASK Showgroung on Friday last week. /DENNIS DIBONDO

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has denied claims by Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri that they agreed to allocate part of the Sh2.2 billion Miraa bailout cash to macadamia and avocado farming.

The money was allocated in two batches of Sh1.2 billion and Sh1.2 billion in the budgets of the 2016/17 and 2017/18 financial years.

Kiraitu said during a show at a vernacular radio station on Wednesday that the county has not received or spent a coin from the national government's miraa funds.

"I have met with CS Kiunjuri several times but we have never agreed on the how the cash will be used," he said.

"If the government wants to issue avocado and macadamia seedlings using miraa funds or any other kitty, they will then do it as the national government, not the Meru county government."

Kiunjuri had announced that part of the miraa money will be used to assist farmers to plant macadamia and avocado for diversification.

The CS said the ministry and the Meru county administration were in agreement that the funds for miraa will go towards buying macadamia and avocado seedlings.

Kiunjuri spoke on September 28 at Gitoro ASK Showground during the Meru Dairy Union Farmer's field day.

The announcement sparked a public outrage. Three MPs from Meru demanded clarity from Murungi and Kiunjuri.

President Uhuru Kenyatta had directed that the government releases the cash to implement recommendations made by a task force for the recovery of the miraa sector.

Kiraitu said that last Friday, he issued 200,000 macadamia and 200,000 avocado seedlings to farmers because the crops have a ready market in China and European countries.

"The budget is Sh90 million. I want to distribute 1 million seedlings each for avocado and macadamia. No one is coerced to plant," Kiraitu said.

Read: I didn't ask farmers to uproot Miraa, Kiraitu says, vouches for Avocado

More on this: Ten Nyambene MCAs warn Kiunjuri over miraa money

He asked MPs from Meru to summon Kiunjuri in Parliament to shed light on whereabouts of the miraa cash

"I never told anyone to uproot miraa to plant macadamia or avocado. I encourage intercropping," Kiraitu said.

Tigania East MP Gichunge Kabeabea, his Igembe North counterpart Maoka Maore and the East Africa Assembly MP Mpuru Aburi earlier said it would be wrong to divert the miraa cash.

Maore said the money was set aside to improve miraa, water provision, build sheds for miraa, seek markets for the crops and to boost research.

"The county government has its own budget for Agriculture budget which can be used for avocado and macadamia seedlings. Let them keep off the miraa cash. CS Kiunjuri has been a stumbling block to the implementation of the task force's recommendations," Maore said.

Kabeabea said the funds should be used to develop miraa and do market research.

Aburi said the cash is meant to cushion farmers from adverse effects of the miraa ban in European markets.

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