Editorials

Give farmers the best care in quest for food security

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A farmer ploughs at Kaaboi in Turbo, Uasin Gishu County on January 28, 2021. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • As the ministry and its agencies are responding, we challenge the minister to ensure that these scheduled actions are executed without fail and without delay.
  • It is only when laws are implemented that they protect people it is intended to cushion from market malpractices and cartel-like behaviour.

Days after the Ministry of Agriculture said cane millers that delay paying farmers will pay a 1.5 percent interest per month, a coffee trader was barred from the auction for defaulting on Sh163 million belonging to growers.

In the first case, Peter Munya, the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, said farmers ought to be paid with a week. To this effect, millers were given two months to sign new contracts with the farmers. Under the coffee tiff, Kenya Planters Coffee Union had not released the money in question for the March 16 deliveries.

According to coffee regulators, the payment should be wired electronically or through a banker’s cheque within five working days from the day of the sale.

The Agriculture and Food Authority suspended the firm from the auction until it complies with the regulations while the minister said cane should be harvested within 24 months.

It is commendable that the ministry is reining in millers and traders at a time farmers, almost across all the crop sectors, have been carrying an unnecessary weight of waiting for payments beyond what is allowed. They toil and endure other burdens like cost of inputs, expensive licensing, and false weights like what Irish potato farmers have endured for years.

As the ministry and its agencies are responding, we challenge the minister to ensure that these scheduled actions are executed without fail and without delay. It is only when laws are implemented that they protect people it is intended to cushion from market malpractices and cartel-like behaviour.

We reiterate that no auction, no milling firm, and no business can go on if the primary producers are neglected and routinely abused.

The ripple effect of mishandling farmers and the abuse of laws keep blocking the country from achieving food security and sufficiency.

It needs no emphasis that when we have angry and hungry farmers, food production will suffer, making nonsense of programmes aimed at recruiting more people to join farming and urging new crop of farmers to use the latest technologies.

Without making farmers happy and comfortable, the country is exposing the entire economy to distress while it could be avoided by monitoring the laws and regulations while punishing wrongdoers.