Top Stories / Counties
Saturday, 30 Dec 2017 22:41 EATamboleokata@gmail.com
Nakuru would acquire and retain regional carrot export market if farmers fully met set standards and quality of their produce, an agricultural food expert has advised.
The Agriculture Food Authority – Horticultural Crops Directorate head Zakayo Magara said the country had many reference points for quality management. He said carrot farmers from Nakuru were being denied foreign markets in Uganda and Tanzania for failure to adhere to export rules and codes.
Farmers in Mau Narok, Njoro, have for years decried frustrations by government officials and the existence of brokers to access the regional market. “Farmers willing to export their produce should have valid licenses and registered as exporters or else, their produce will be confiscated at border points,” stated Mr Magara.
While addressing a carrot farmers and stakeholders forum in Njoro, Mr Magara said the county would reap much if it majored in value addition of its other produce.
Nakuru County Minister for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Dr Immaculate Njuthe said the county was committed in having a strong and sustainable agricultural value chain for the farmers. “We have brought together all stakeholders in the ‘carrot sub-sector’ to enlighten each other and cooperate in producing high-quality products,” said Dr Njuthe.
Present at the meeting were small-holder farmers, transporters, brokers, border and custom officials, horticultural council and export officials among others. She said coming up with clear legislation, especially on packaging of the agricultural produce would make carrot farming a profitable venture.
Mr Washington Kirobi, a farmer in Mau Narok, noted that he ceased farming carrots once he realised it was the exporter or the broker who was pocketing the highest profit margin. “I’d advice the government to come to our aid. Why should another person reap from my sweet?” Mr Kirobi, who is in his 70s, implored.
Trade, Industry, Marketing, and Tourism Minister Dr Peter Ketyenya revealed that the county was working to establishing industrial parks in Naivasha and Njoro to help in value addition. “The county is also set to hold an investors’ conference early next year and multinational companies have already expressed interest in agro-processing,” said Dr Ketyenya.
He added that his office and farmers’ representatives would be meeting with his counterparts in Tanzania, Uganda and other regional markets to familiarise themselves with existing laws.
He advised the farmers to form saccos to have a common voice while pushing their agenda, “The county will also have a proper set avenue while dishing out revolving funds to aid in agriculture.”
Mr Wilson Mwangi, a committee member on Agriculture at the County Assembly of Nakuru said the assembly was keen on ensuring set laws meant to benefit ordinary farmer were adhered to.
Mau Narok MCA Jackson Githua said threats were rife on those advocating for proper packaging of the commodity. He said the government should rein on brokers who he accused of colluding with border officials to ensure that independent farmers did not export carrots.
“They even ‘plant’ bhang or other contraband on your load so that you can be arrested, charged and your truck of carrot seized,” revealed Mr Githua.
The writer is contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Nakuru County