Farmers from the North Rift region have welcomed President Uhuru Kenyatta’s order to revamp the Kenya Farmers Association (KFA).
The KFA Director, Kipkorir Menjo, accompanied by other farmers’ representatives, Jackson Chemweno and Joseph Tanui said the President’s order was long overdue and hoped that its implementation would be immediate.
Menjo said farmers representatives from Uasin Gishu County will be travelling to Nairobi to meet the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture (CS), Mwangi Kiunjuri over the planned revamping of the moribund association so that it can begin serving the interest of farmers again.
Menjo observed that the President’s move was in the right direction because KFA which is owned by farmers will enable them to source their own farm inputs at cheaper costs than obtains currently.
He said the process of pressing government to revive the association has been going on for a long time adding that the collapse of KFA several years ago subjected farmers to untold suffering.
Talking to KNA on Monday in Eldoret a farmer from Kaptagat, Jackson Chemweno said buying of farm inputs at the facility was cheaper unlike now where private dealers are enjoying monopoly when the government delayed to supply subsidized fertilizer to farmers this season.
Chemweno said overtime the cost of farm inputs had sharply risen beyond the reach of most farmers because unscrupulous businessmen were taking advantage of the gap that was left behind with the collapse of KFA.
President Kenyatta issued the directive during the Ushirika Day Celebrations last Saturday, when he asked CS Kiunjuri to immediately embark on plans to revive KFA and the Kenya Planters Cooperative Union, KPCU to serve farmers’ interests.
Chemweno further said during its heydays, KFA used to sell farm inputs at affordable prices and even extend credit facilities to farmers whenever the need arose.
The KFA’s assets, including land and warehouses are valued at over Sh.10 billion, unfortunately most of the assets were sold to repay debts amounting to more than Sh.2 billion.
The Association was incorporated in 1923 and it performed its role as a distributor of farm inputs as well as a marketing body even after Kenya attained independence. Famers were assured of inputs whether or not they had money as KFA advanced them affordable credit.
However, when the government meddled with the farmers’ organization in 1984 later winding it up and putting in its place, the Kenya Grain Growers Co-operative Union (KGGCU), against the wishes of its members, KFA died with the hopes of farmers as KGGCU failed miserably to deliver as the old KFA.
The then KANU government changed tact and wound up KGGCU in 1996, reverting it back to KFA which was just, but a shell of its former self.
By Kiptanui Cherono