Rice farmers from Bunyala Sub County have expressed their disappointment at the proposal by the government to privatize the Western Kenya Rice Mill.
Led by the chairman of Magombe Multipurpose Cooperative Society, Christopher Ngunyi, the farmers stated that they were shareholders at the facility yet were not consulted.
‘As members of Magombe cooperative society, we have shares in the rice mill and we are sad that the government has plans to privatize it,’ he said, adding that the members had not been consulted.
Ngunyi challenged the government to allow farmers to buy its shares in case it wanted to withdraw from the Company.
“We also want to urge the Ministry of Water and Irrigation to speed up the works at Lower Nzoia Irrigation Project,” he said, adding that farmers are suffering as the four pumps given to them by the National Irrigation Authority ten years ago are already worn out.
He added that Magombe Cooperative Society donated four acres of land to construct offices for the Lower Nzoia Irrigation project but the offices are not being utilized.
‘We want the government to compensate us for the four acres that we gave out,” he said, adding that they have given a notice of 14 days’ failure to which they take the matter to court.
The official lamented that farmers still count losses during the rainy season yet the government promised to construct a warehouse and a store for them.
“We want this project to be completed so that we can get enough water as soon as possible,’ he said, adding that farmers are no longer interested in extending the project.
Ngunyi at the same time criticized the appointing authority for moving the National Irrigation Authority office headquarters to Siaya County.
‘We want the office of the National Irrigation Manager’s office to remain here near our scheme as the regional office,” he said, urging the local leaders to intervene.
Ngunyi at the same time urged the government to consider providing subsidized fertilizer to improve their rice yields.
“We have 4,000 acres under rice growing and our big challenge is that we lack special fertilizer for the crop,” he said, adding that they are forced to purchase the precious commodity from private agro-dealers.
He urged the County Government to establish a depot for Sub County farmers instead of traveling long distances to Malaba or Bondo in Siaya County.
By Salome Alwanda