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China firm among four to invest in pyrethrum sector

Farmers harvest pyrethrum flowers in Molo, Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Farmers harvest pyrethrum flowers in Molo, Nakuru. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

REPyrethrum Directorate is in the process of registering four processing firms as it moves to open up the market for the private sector to inject new capital into the ailing industry.

They include Chinese firm Senju Development Company that is setting base in Uasin Gishu County and Botanical Company currently based in Athi River. Others are Highchem East Africa and Orion.

Pyrethrum Directorate head Andrew Osodo said: “We have received four application from four companies and we are currently processing their certificates, which we shall be issuing to them very soon.”

Pyrethrum was previously classified under scheduled crops and only the government through its Nakuru-based plant was allowed to trade in the crop until liberalisation in 2014, giving room for private companies.

This is the latest attempt by the government to revive the ailing sector now produces about 300 metric tonnes of pyrethrum extract down from 20,000 metric tonnes in the early 1970s.

One of the requirements for the firms seeking a processing certificate is that they have 300 acres for development of the crop.

They also need to have contracted 300 farmers to ensure consistency in production once the factory begins operations.

Until the sub-sector went under, Kenya used to be a major producer of pyrethrum in the world, accounting for 70 per cent of the total supply.
Most of the pyrethrum produced is meant for export with the local market consuming less than two per cent.

Recent statistics from the directorate indicate that the volumes of flowers supplied to the Nakuru-based processor dropped from 390 metric tonnes in 2014 to 290 metric tonnes last year with projections for 2017 even lower.

In 2014, the extract from pyrethrum exports earned the country Sh200 million. In 2015, Kenya received Sh207 million from the crop and Sh120 million last year.

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