, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Farmers through the umbrella body of Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers Association now want the government to give them control of the defunct Kenya Farmers Association (KFA).
KENFAP National Chairman Nduati Kariuki said on Wednesday that his members had the capacity to take over the running of the association and they would soon seek a go-ahead from the government to do this.
“Farmers are capable and willing to revive and run KFA. We believe we have the qualification to run this organisation because of our big membership base and our area network. We also have the confidence of suppliers,” he said.
The Federation has been in existence since 1946 and is made up of over 30 national commodities associations, 4,000 farmer groups and 15 cooperative societies whose members are drawn from 50 districts across the country.
While pointing to how long it has taken to revive the KFA, Mr Kariuki said they would be able to use their network to distribute subsidised farm inputs such as seeds, fertilisers and other farm machinery which would go a long way in enabling the country to be self sufficient in food production.
Before its collapse under the weight of debt in the 1980s, the farmers’ association had a membership base of 72,000, sales turnover of Sh2.5 billion and was posting profits of over Sh100 million.
Despite a commitment to grant a Sh5 billion package in 2003 and the drafting of a revival plan in 2007, the government has not taken any concrete steps to revive KFA which further adds to farmers’ frustrations as they have now been left under the mercy of unscrupulous middlemen.
But if KENFAP’s request is approved, Mr Kariuki said they would have to form a holding body that would be able to effectively and professionally run the affairs of the association.
“The process is that farmers would have to meet and maybe form one major farmers’ organisation in which all the cooperative societies and farmers organisations would be included and then they restructure it,” he said.
The new organisation, he added, would then work out among other things the estimates of how much would be needed to revitalise the association.
The request was raised in the presence of Agriculture Minister Sally Kosgey who promised that the government would look into the issue and revert to the farmers.
The two spoke during the Federation’s Annual General Meeting and National Farmers Congress where the effects of climate change on agriculture and solutions to deal with this crisis were discussed.
Speaking at the forum which was her first official duty since she was moved to the Agriculture Ministry from the Higher Education docket, Dr Kosgey expressed the government’s commitment to work with all stakeholders to address the various challenges affecting the sector whose direct and indirect contribution to the country’s Gross Domestic Product is over 50 percent.
“Agriculture does not only give a country its riches, but it is the only riches a country can call her own especially in our own country Kenya. We therefore must uphold agriculture with the importance it deserves,” she said.