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Government to buy rice from local farmers

Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Investments, Trade, and Industry Moses Kuria has announced that the government will purchase all rice produced by Mwea farmers in Kirinyaga County.

This has given the farmers assurance that their fortunes would not be hurt by previous intention to import duty-free maize and rice.

The CS who spoke at Kagio, Kirinyaga stated that the government is concerned about the wellbeing of local farmers.

“I spoke with the leader of the rice farmers in Mwea, and I informed him that the Kenya National Trade Company (KNTC) falls under my ministry. I have promised that we will buy all of your rice, so don’t listen to anyone who tells you differently,” CS Kuria stated.

KNTC acts as a procurement agent for the government, participating in the promotion of wholesale and retail trade in order to strengthen the supply chain of essential products.

He implored the cooperatives not to hoard rice promising the government would buy it to the last grain.

“Let the farmers and cooperative societies not hoard rice; instead, bring it to us so that we can buy it at a reasonable price,” he said.

Rice farmers had criticized the plans by the government to import cheap rice, claiming it would compel them to sell their rice at a loss in order to compete with duty-free rice. The measure instituted by CS Kuria will enable the farmers to sell directly to the government at market price.

Ndege Muriuki, chairman of the Mwea Rice Growers Multipurpose Organization said that they expected over 1,000,000 metric tons of rice in their storage by the end of the season, ensuring that the country will be nourished until the harvest season of 2023-2024.

Mwea is the largest producer of rice in the country and there were fears the imports would harm the region economically.

By Mutai Kipngetich

 

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