Directive to revive Kenya Farmers Association step in right direction

Tuesday, October 1st, 2019 00:00 |
Potato farming. Photo/File

In radical measures aimed at making the country food secure, President Uhuru Kenyatta recently  directed Trade Cabinet Secretary to restructure two farmer organisations.

The goal is to revert control and ownership of the Kenya Planters Co-operative Union (KPCU) and Kenya Farmers Association (KFA) to farmers.

The directive was a reprieve and will go a long way towards safeguarding farmers from greedy middlemen who have continued to reap where they have not sown, literally.

The move will not only boost farmers’ income, but will also ensure they access inputs such as seeds, fertilisers, chemicals and even farm machinery on credit.

In its heyday, KFA could make sales of up to Sh2.5 billion and post profits of up to Sh100 million through a well-structured, effective network for distributing farm inputs.

The system banked on buying inputs cheaply and in bulk and then selling to farmers on credit.

The revival plans come in the wake of efforts to ensure a million farmers and fishermen in 34 counties benefit from strategic SMEs through provision of input and equipment, including for irrigation, processing and post-harvest aggregation.

If well implemented the measures could attain their intended purpose of cushioning small scale farmers and ensuring food security.

However, such good intentions must be followed by clear guidelines to stave off cartels.

It is every farmer’s hope that the President’s recent directive will not be another false start like other previous efforts to resuscitate the ailing association.

The government, on its parts, must reflect where the rain started beating the association to avoid past mistakes.

For instance, when the moment government started meddling with KFA’s affairs by replacing it with Kenya Grain Growers Cooperative Union (KGGCU), it lost the plot. This was done despite protests from association members.

This was further compounded by appointment of State mandarins who ran roughshod on delivery, in whose wake graft and momentous stripping of assets followed.

The turnaround efforts must, therefore, be done differently and proactively by embracing the spirit of the cooperative movement whose ideals KFA leverages.

An effective agriculture sector will not only empower the farmer, but also spur the country’s agricultural and economic growth.

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