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Govt sets aside land for bio fuels

NAIROBI, October 2 – The government has set aside 500,000 acres of land for growing jatropha, which is used to produce bio fuels.

Agriculture Minister William Ruto said Thursday that his ministry was working with the Kenya Industrial Research Development Institute (KIRDI) to provide the necessary technology to harness the potential that the country has for bio fuel extraction.

“This will help mitigate the rising fuel prices, which have almost doubled in the last one year,” he noted.

He assured the public that the land, which is under the Agricultural Development Corporation, would be in the marginal areas and thus would not interfere with food production.

“There will be no competition for land that is currently being used for food production and that for bio fuel production,” he pledged.

Speaking during the official opening of the 2008 Nairobi International Trade Fair Ruto disclosed that the first consignment of fertiliser from abroad would be in the country by the end of October with the rest of the delivery coming in early next year.

“We have already agreed with the (fertiliser) manufacturers on a reasonable price and the rest of the batches will come in by January next year,” he said.

The government had provided Sh5.4billion for the importations of fertiliser to enable farmers have access to the commodity before the onset of both short and long rains.

On the sugar issue, Ruto announced that his ministry would hold a transparent auction of the licences to import sugar from the COMESA region next week. This, he added would provide a ready market for the sugar farmer.

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“Through the rules that we have put in place, we have eliminated the unscrupulous businessmen who were bringing in sugar that was disguised as cement or rice,” he boasted.

New rules for the troubled tea sector would also be gazetted on Friday. He revealed that they had consolidated the recommendations presented by a task force into tea regulations, which would help guide the sector.

“Our farmers will have a say in what happens to their produce and will also benefit from the earnings from the tea,” he disclosed.

Earlier in the week, the Tea Board of Kenya had threatened to invoke the Tea Act, to deal with farmers who were uprooting their bushes citing poor returns from their crop.

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