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Cotton farmers get govt boost

MERU, September 16 – The government has promised cotton farmers a minimum price of Sh30 per kilogram for their produce, starting this season.

Agriculture Assistant Minister Japheth Kareke said Tuesday that the government would also offer free seeds and pesticides to farmers, especially those in arid areas, in a move aimed at reviving the cotton industry.

“60 percent of production costs incurred by farmers go to seeds and pesticides,” said the Assistant Minister.

Speaking at the Kajuki market in his Nithi constituency while on a tour of cotton-growing areas, Kareke also announced that three modern ginneries would be constructed in the country.

He added that the government would ship in Sh11.5 billion worth of fertilizer that would be sold to farmers at subsidised prices before the rains start.

He promised that a bag of DAP; which is currently retailing at Sh5, 000, would sell at Sh3, 000 once the fertilizer is delivered.

Kareke exacted that the fertilizer would be distributed through the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB), adding that plans were underway to increase the number of depots in the country.

“We want farmers to be near the depots to minimise transport costs,” he went on.

The legislator observed that the Ministry was exploring ways of countering the dip in tea prices, by ensuring farmers received at least 70 percent of their proceeds from the international market.

“A kilogram of tea is selling at about Sh300 at the international market, while the farmer is getting peanuts,” he exposed, and assured disgruntled coffee and tea farmers that policies were being drafted to shore up and stabilise prices.

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“We are working on it so please do not uproot their crops.”

In the last one year, declining tea payments have made some farmers in the Meru region uproot tea bushes in preference of bananas and other more lucrative horticultural produce.

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