Maize farmers will be able to consolidate their produce and sell as a group to ward off middlemen as the government moves to form co-operatives tailored for grain producers.
Co-operative Principal Secretary Patrick Kilemi said as it stands now, most small-scale farmers do not have access to co-operatives and are forced to dispose of their produce at throwaway prices to brokers who offer dismal prices.
Mr Kilemi said under this scheme, farmers will be aggregated into groups and linked to co-operatives to give them bargaining power when it comes to dictating sell terms.
“We want to aggregate farmers into co-operatives so that they can negotiate for better prices for not only their produce but also when securing farm inputs for planting,” said Mr Kilemi.
Speaking during the launch of Ushirika Day festivities ahead of the celebration next month, the PS said the move will help farmers to benefit from their enterprise.
He said an important crop such as maize is not well represented when it comes to cooperative organisations, making it lag in harnessing the benefits that come with being organised.
Mr Kilemi said his ministry has formed a technical committee that will play a key role in bringing farmers into cooperatives and that they are working with the county governments with directors of cooperatives in devolved units acting as the link between the two arms of government.
Chief executive officer of the Co-operative Association of Kenya Daniel Marube said the Co-operative Bill that is currently before the Cabinet will play a key role in enhancing membership in cooperative societies.
Mr Marube said some governance issues witnessed before had deterred the growth of numbers in the movement.
“This new Bill if passed into law will strengthen the structure of governance and curb mismanagement as it will hold cooperative officials liable in case of any losses arising from bad leadership,” said Mr Marube.
Mr Kilemi said his ministry is in talks with relevant stakeholders to allow tax relief on mortgages borrowed from co-operatives as is the case with banks.
“Those borrowing mortgages from banks get some relief unlike those who get it from co-operatives. We are working with other state departments to ensure the same benefit is passed to borrowers in cooperatives,” he said.