Agriculture, livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya says the government will spend Sh1billion in the revival of the pyrethrum sub sector to help bolster rural economies of 18 high potential Counties.
Speaking in Nakuru Saturday, Munya said the money will be released to the Nakuru based Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) in two tranches to jumpstart the turnaround bid anticipated to scale up production of pyrethrum for the domestic and global markets.
He said the government will release Sh500 million in the next two weeks to facilitate acquisition of seedlings for planting on 500 acres in Nakuru, West Pokot, Nyandarua and Meru Counties in anticipation of expanding the crop’s cover to 1,500 acres by April next year.
Part of the resuscitation plan is to upgrade the nearly obsolete processing plant at PPCK in an effort to expand the public company’s capacity to crush hundreds of tons of flowers expected to be delivered per day in coming months.
The CS said that grower apathy stemming from dwindling fortunes in the sub sector was an impediment to the revitalization bid saying part of the revival plan will be to mount sensitization campaigns among farmers in targeted areas to get them to cultivate the cash crop.
Munya said the plan also seeks to bring on board private processors, adding that the government had also finalized modalities of settling debts owed to the company owing to years of mismanagement and corruption.
Munya emphasized the need for deliberate partnership with licensed private pyrethrum processors as a way of fast-tracking expansion of plantations for enough crop for processing and export of pyrethrin.
He said the private sector, as is defined in the ministry`s pyrethrum development strategic plan, is expected to help establish 1,000 acres of pyrethrum.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui welcomed the move saying revival of the sub sector will boost Nakuru County`s economy that is largely supported by small holder farmers.
Kinyanjui urged the George Kamau-led task force on the revival of the pyrethrum subsector to consult widely for practical solutions to problems ailing the lucrative sector.
Kinyanjui said the county government through its pyrethrum revival campaign is already reaching out to over 3,000 small holder farmers with deliberate advocacy messages for cultivation of the crop, that he says has a potential to provide sustainable livelihoods and gainful employment to more than 30,000 youth.
Nakuru County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Dr. Immaculate Maina said the County`s directorate has allocated Sh 60 million for purchasing of seedlings for 1,000 farmers as a way of kick-starting cultivation of the crop.
She said the idea is to develop 1,000 new acres of the crop.
On his part, the Vice chairman of the Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries committee at the Nakuru County Assembly Wilson Mwangi urged the national and county governments to help PPCK repossess its assets lost to corrupt cartels that crippled the company.
Among them are parcels of land meant for research and houses built by farmers in the 1970s to serve as a revenue stream for the company.
Mwangi said foreign investors were willing to inject millions of shillings into the sector but on condition that the government seals loopholes for corruption.
By Jane Ngugi/Dennis Rasto