Farmers and agro-processors across the country have reason to smile following the official launch of the Warehouse Receipt System (WRS).
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Mr. Peter Munya was on Thursday at National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) Kitale store in Trans Nzoia County where he unveiled the WRS, which has been under pilot in several parts of the country.
Addressing farmers, representatives of various stakeholders and development partners, Munya hailed the initiative saying if well implemented, it would effectively address some of the challenges faced by grain and livestock farmers in the country.
“The WRS would assist alleviate the problems of poverty and food insecurity in Kenya by reducing post-harvest losses, which represent 40 per cent of the food produced in the country,” remarked Munya, adding the system would also address price exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen.
Besides stabilizing market prices and earning farmers better profits, the CS said the receipt system would also reduce pressure on farmers who most of times were forced to dispose of their produce immediately after harvest when market prices were usually low.
“Instead, the system enables farmers to make informed decisions, such as when to sell their produce by giving them the alternative against selling under distress at harvest time when prices are low,” added Munya.
While urging Kenyan farmers to embrace the WRS initiative, Munya assured they could use the receipt as collateral to access affordable credit facilities from participating financial institutions or trade in commodity markets.
WRS is an electronic system which allows agricultural farmers to deposit their commodities in certified warehouses belonging to NCPB where they were issued with receipts as they waited for the price to be in their favour before selling the same.
The system collateralized the warehouse receipt which, as a document of title, could be used by farmers to access credit from designated lenders.
Cooperative Bank, Equity Bank, Agriculture Finance Corporation (AFC) and Family Bank were key among financial institutions that have already signed a working partnership with the Warehouse Receipt System Council (WRSC).
“The Warehouse Receipt System initiative is part of ongoing reforms in the agricultural sector as well as a key pillar towards the country’s attainment of Vision 2030,” noted Munya.
He further noted the initiative would in turn make the sector more lucrative, thus promoting the country’s food security as outlined in Vision 2030 and the Big 4 agenda on food and nutrition.
The CS disclosed that at least five NCPB stores, including Kitale, Eldoret, Nakuru, Meru and Nairobi, had been certified.
“We have about twelve more NCPB stores that are in process of being certified by the WRSC,” said Munya who appealed to county governments and private individuals to invest in the warehouse industry to enable the country register as many WRS centres as possible.
Warehouse Receipt System Council is a State Corporation in the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives established by the Warehouse Receipt System Act No.8 of 2019.
The noble initiative is set to benefit farmers in cereals and pulses (maize, beans, rice, green grams), coffee, nuts and oils (macadamia and coconut), fiber crops (cotton), livestock products (processed meat and fish), processed milk, horticulture products (potatoes) and industrial crops (pyrethrum).
Trans Nzoia County Governor Mr. Patrick Khaemba, County Commissioner Mr. Samson Ojwang, Kwanza Legislator Mr. Ferdinand Wanyonyi and Trans Nzoia Women Representative Janet Nangabo were among high ranking state officers who graced the colourful event.
By Maurice Aluda