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Kenya pyrethrum farmers to earn triple

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – Pyrethrum farmers will now be paid Sh150 for every kilo of the commodity delivered to the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya (PBK).

Agriculture Minister William Ruto told a press briefing that this amount is three times more than the farmers were currently receiving for their supplies and it was an incentive for them to produce more.

“The confidence that the Board used to enjoy in the past has waned and farmers are not confident supplying to them. We have therefore decided that beginning May, we will pay Sh150 per kilo of delivered pyrethrum,” he added.

This, he disclosed, was part of the recommendations made by the taskforce formed to look into ways of reviving the pyrethrum sub- sector and which he pledged would be implemented immediately.

He said the sub-sector requires Sh472 million over the next three years to upscale pyrethrum production in the country.

In 2001, the country had its highest production of 18,000 tonnes of pyrethrum which also used to fetch Sh5 billion from the exports but this has significantly come down to 1,000 tonnes. Currently, the sale of the supplies earns the country Sh250 million.

Through these measures the government hopes to raise the production to 5,000 tonnes over the next three years.

“Most of that money will go to paying farmers’ arrears, production of seeds, provision of extension services and paying for the supply of the commodity,” he said, further revealing that the arrears amounting to Sh76 million would be cleared in two tranches before June.

The Ministry, Mr Ruto relayed, would provide Sh103 million before June while they would hold discussions with their Treasury counterparts on how to raise the rest of the money.

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To ensure efficiency in the Pyrethrum Board, 166 staff would be retrenched. There is a lot of idle manpower at the Board and the services would no longer be required particularly now that production had declined considerably.

“Their packages will be arranged so that the government can meet that expense. We will therefore remain with a leaner staff of 216 to undertake the operations of the Board,” he emphasised.

On the ownership of the Board, which although run by government is owned by farmers, the Minister said he had commissioned the updating of the stocks registers to determine the shareholding structure.

A growers’ register would also be revised with a view to holding elections to be held in the first week of June.

The report also proposed the separation of the regulatory and commercial functions of the Board, a decision which would be a desk set up in the ministry to run the regulatory affairs.

All the money pumped into the PBK by the government amounting to Sh863 million would be converted into equity, a move that would see the government become a shareholder in the Board alongside the farmers.

In November last year, Mr Ruto announced a change of management in the Board when he appointed Gem Arwings-Kodhek as the team leader of the PBK.

The Minister then said Mr Arwings-Kodhek together with his team would be required to develop new planting materials and improve access to inputs and financial services to increase pyrethrum production.

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