The government has released Sh40 million to purchase pyrethrum seedlings for farmers in order to step up pyrethrum production in 18 high potential counties.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya has said the money will be disbursed to the counties immediately to facilitate the purchase of seedlings to enable farmers to begin planting the crop with the ongoing short rains.
He said the seedlings will be sourced from available certified nurseries in the country in a move aimed at spurring production of the crop, whose product, pyrethrin, was in high demand globally.
The CS was speaking in Molo town during a consultative forum with farmers from Molo and Kuresoi Sub counties.
During the function, Munya issued some seedlings to the pyrethrum farmers present and 4 new pickup trucks to the Pyrethrum Processing Company (PPCK) to to support in the distribution of pyrethrum seedlings and enhance extension services to farmers across the County.
The CS said researchers at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO) were in the process of developing high-yielding and disease-resistant seedlings to be distributed to farmers by April next year.
Munya said the central government in collaboration with the county governments is committed to supporting farmers in the subsector to increase the acreage of the crop to serve both domestic and international market.
He said the initiative also seeks to encourage participation of the private sector in the growing and processing of pyrethrin to make the subsector competitive after a decade’s slump.
Munya encouraged farmers to collect seedlings from the County governments and promised prompt payment at competitive rates on delivered flowers.
Currently, the Nakuru-based Pyrethrum Processing Company (PPCK) is paying Sh200 -Sh250 for each kilogram of pyrethrum flowers delivered at the processing plant.
Delayed payments and lack of planting material led to the collapse of the sub-sector which economists say has the potential to provide gainful employment to at least 2 million people in the areas.
Munya hopes deliberate public-private partnerships (PPP) will scale up pyrethrum acreage from the current 2,000 to 10,000.
The CS said he has tasked a board to help revamp the sub-sector by inspiring investment.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui commended the move saying that a vibrant Pyrethrum sector will help shore up rural economies by providing on and off-farm jobs to women and youths.
Kinyanjui said the County Government of Nakuru will sustain awareness campaigns in high potential areas in the effort to rebuild confidence among farmers after years of grower apathy.
He urged farmers to venture into pyrethrum growing saying his office is engaging players in the private sector to buy pyrethrum flowers from farmers at competitive prices.
Kinyanjui observed that as the world adopts organic farming practices, the demand for pyrethrum products will continue growing and this will create sustainable livelihoods for farmers of the crop.
The Governor appealed to the national government to fast-track modernization of the processing equipment at the Pyrethrum Processing Company which has a crushing capacity of 10 Metric tons a day for a higher processing capacity.
He said that the devolved unit has also allocated Sh50 million to the revival of the sub-sector in what he described as a spirited bid by his government to transform agriculture into a job and wealth creation pathway.
Kinyajui said the money will be spent on seedlings certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) for farmers wishing to grow pyrethrum.
Farmers who spoke at the forum commended the initiative but demanded that some members of the board be picked from the 18 counties that grow pyrethrum.
Pyrethrum is processed to obtain pyrethrin which is a key ingredient in the manufacture of pesticides and insecticides.
By Emily Kadzo