Government to ensure rice farmers are paid on time
Mwea rice farmers will have their dues from this year’s crop paid by latest February next year , according to a government agent.
The Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC), Managing Director Pamela Mutua already the farmers have been paid Sh 500 million for the ended season .
“We have already paid the farmers Sh 500 million for the last season while a balance of Sh 200 million is due soonest possible ,”she assured the farmers.
Mutua was responding to cries from the farmers who told the Agriculture CS Peter Munya when he visited them this morning that it was taking almost a year before they were paid despite having delivered their produce for marketing to the corporation.
Munya said the Sh 85 per kilogram of paddy rice President Uhuru Kenyatta had announced two years ago still stood while many other measures including subsidised farm inputs would be availed in an effort to lower production costs down to meaningful levels .
The CS said the government had asked importers of the crop not to over import when the one produced in Mwea was still held in their stores .
Munya also assured the growers that this year’s crop would not be destroyed by the perennial querea querea boards which migrate into the scheme whenever the grain reached maturity stage .
“We have requested the Treasurer to ensure funds for buying spray chemicals to destroy these birds were available on time to avoid massive losses of the grain crop, as it happened last season ,”Munya said.
Other measures in place to improve productivity of the crop was the ongoing construction of the Thiba mega dam which upon completion will provide irrigation water enough for two crops per year instead of the current one dependent on rainfall.
“The contractor has given an undertaking that come the long rains next April, the dam will be filed up in readiness for the farmers to start growing two crops per year without any further dependency on rain fed agriculture ,”the CS told the farmers .
He also assured the farmers that the government had mandated the KNTC to ensure all its institutions bought their rice requirements from the area which was of high quality compared to the imported and cheap varieties .
The scheme has also started to produce Kwamboka variety which is high yielding, early maturing and equally aromatic just like the popular pishori and which the local farmers are being encouraged to grow .
The National Irrigation Authority (NIA), Chairman Joshua Toro who was present recalled how when he was an opposition MP fought the then National Irrigation Board (NIB), alongside the area MP Alfred Nderitu to bring about the reforms farmers were now enjoying .
He said the struggle to bring about the reforms the farmers required in order to free themselves from the oppression by the Board was an uphill task more so since the Kanu regime was still firmly holding on into the scheme .
“I could not imagine that one day I would be appointed to chair the NIA Board and stand in front of you as am doing today in this capacity and I can only now assure you of even more better things to come ,”he said.
The official told the farmers their issues were more represented after their own Water Users Association Chairman Morris Mutugi had been incorporated into NIA as one of its Board Member.