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Pyrethrum firm set to buy machine for Sh70m

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

The Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya has inched closer to realising its dream of acquiring a modern extraction machine for its Nakuru factory.

Acting managing director Paul Lolwerikoi said the machine would extract pyrethrin content from as little as five tonnes of dry flowers.

“The government has issued an international tender to procure the machine at between Sh60 million and Sh70 million. The machine could be installed before mid this year,” he said.

At the same time, a US laboratory Wellmark Analytical Chemistry in Dallas has issued the firm an approval certificate to sell its products in America.

“Our laboratory has been given a clean bill of health. Whatever we process at the Nakuru factory will easily access US and other European markets,” said Mr Lolwerikoi.

The Nakuru factory has been idle due to lack of raw materials. During its peak, the factory received flowers from 200,000 farmers. But the number drastically fell to 6,000 farmers.

Currently, the factory waits for months to accumulate flowers for processing.

Mr Lolwerikoi said 100 tonnes of processed flowers can earn the company Sh20 million in international markets.

The current machine can crash 25 tonnes of flowers a day but is largely under-utilised.

Another machine which cost taxpayers nearly Sh1 billion, and can crash 50 tonnes of flowers a day is also rotting at the Nakuru factory yard.

The machine was acquired in 2006 but developed mechanical problems.

Meanwhile, farmers have a reason to smile after the company cleared Sh10.6 million it owes them for non-payment of deliveries in the past six months.

The company raised the money from lease of properties belonging to the defunct Pyrethrum Board of Kenya, which are valued at more than Sh4 billion.

It has engaged a private firm, Bonkam Ventures, to collect between Sh800,000 and Sh1.5 million a month from the properties and rental houses.

In 2017-2018 financial year, the company also received Sh50 million from the Exchequer to clear its debts.

Mr Lolwerikoi urged county governments to set aside funds for purchase of clean planting materials. Out of the 18 pyrethrum growing counties, Nakuru received Sh4.2 million, with Molo sub- county — the hub of pyrethrum growing in Kenya — receiving more than Sh2 million.

Other pyrethrum growing counties include West Pokot, Nyandarua, Bomet, Uasin Gishu, Kerich, Kisii, Elgeyo Marakwet, Kiambu, Baringo, Narok, Nyeri, Nyamira, Laikipia, Meru and Nandi.

The rundown sector used to earn Kenya in excess of Sh10 billion in foreign exchange in the 1980s and 1990s before corruption and mismanagement took root.

In another development, PPCK has become the first processor to be certified as seed merchants by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services.

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