Fund to cushion farmers proposed

July 15, 2008
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, NAIROBI, July 15 – The Ministry of Agriculture intends to move a motion in Parliament seeking to introduce a fund to cushion farmers against low prices in the event of over production and unfavourable weather conditions.

The Agriculture Development Fund will offer subsidies to farmers if the market prices fall beyond expectation.

Agriculture Minister William Ruto noted that most Kenyan farmers rely on agriculture and need to be supported against exploitation and unfavourable market prices.

“More than 70 per cent of farmers here rely on agriculture. It is the backbone of our economy and thus farmers need to be supported against exploitation and any other unfavourable events,” Ruto said.

Ruto also called on tea and coffee farmers to desist from uprooting their crop since the ministry was working to revive the sectors.

Farmers in Kenya have been uprooting tea and coffee bushes blaming the fluctuating global prices.

Those who have uprooted the crop are opting for the more lucrative diary farming.

The uprooting is rampant in Othaya, Gathuthi, Muranga and Kirinyaga.

Some farmers have been converting the dry tea bushes into charcoal.

Farmers complain of incurring huge losses as the returns cannot even cater for the cost of production.

They said in 2000, they were selling 1 kg of tea at Sh10 and eight years later, they are still selling at the same price, which they insist cannot even cover the labour costs.

The farmers are accusing  the government of failing to effectively address their issues among which  is the cost of production that has shot up with  a bag of fertiliser which retailed at about Sh1500 in 2000, now going for Sh5600.

Much as Agriculture Minister, William Ruto, has been pledging to turn round the agriculture sector by easing the burden on farmers, the effects are yet to be felt by Kenyan farmers.

However Ruto said the government intends to spend Sh200 million to market Kenyan tea as a brand.

He said this is the best way to ensure Kenyan farmers reap maximum returns from their high quality tea which is unfortunately only used to blend teas from other countries.

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