Following concerns by the Mwea rice farmers over the importation of cheap rice into the area, Kirinyaga Women Representative, Wangui Ngirichi has urged the county leadership to convene an urgent meeting to address the matter.
Wangui said since the farmers were against importation of the cheap rice, it was important that their cries be heard and addressed.
“Am calling on our Governor Anne Waiguru to urgently convene a forum comprising of all elected leaders and stakeholders where this issue can be addressed and resolved once and for all,” she said.
She said she was concerned that there were claims of cartels which keep on importing the cheap rice whenever farmers started harvesting the crop thereby flooding the market since consumers can hardly differentiate the cheap from genuine Mwea rice.
Speaking at Ngurubani PCEA church on Sunday, she said the matter should be resolved urgently even as the construction of Thiba dam is underway after which production of the commodity is expected to double.
The leader recalled before 1998 when the rice sector became liberalized, the government institutions like the Military and hospitals used to source for their rice from the Mwea Irrigation scheme.
“I do not understand why these institutions should import rice from the Far East when in Mwea we have higher quality produce,” she said.
A farmer at the scheme, Morris Mutugi said such a forum would be most welcome since the cheap import issue would be appropriately addressed.
Yesterday, Mutugi said it was unfortunate the cartels which keep importing the rice adulterate the cheap one with the quality crop commodity from Mwea to make huge profits at the expense of the farmers.
“Let this meeting be convened soonest possible so that our elected leaders, stakeholders and the farmers can come to a round table and seek for urgent solutions into this matter, “he said.
The farmers wondered why the cheap rice should be imported and dumped in Mwea where the same commodity was being produced in the region unless it was meant to kill the sector.
Recently, Governor Waiguru said plans were underway to brand the Mwea aromatic pishori rice which will be distributed for retail through various outlets across the country.
Mutugi said Waiguru’s proposal should form the basis of the meeting which the Woman Representative is calling for.
By Irungu Mwangi