Stop frustrating maize farmers, Wetang

29 Apr 2019

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetangula has lashed out at the government, accusing it of frustrating farmers’ access to subsidised fertilizer.

Wetang’ula said the state had put in place strict measures, including demanding for title deeds at cereal boards, before farmers can get the fertilizer. The senator said the move further delay the planting season with the government having already delayed the provision of farm inputs.

He said many farmers do not have title deeds.

“How many farmers have title deeds when the Ministry of Lands is still grappling with headaches of millions of unprocessed titles everywhere. It is not possible t meet that demand,” Wetang’ula said.

He was addressing reporters on Friday at his Kanduyi home. He was with Bungoma Deputy Governor Charles Ngome, Bungoma Knut secretary general Ken Nganga and Ford Kenya youth leader Wafula Wakoli.

The Ford Kenya leader said it was strange that farmers were being asked to show documents for parcels they had leased.

“How many farmers in the villages go to lawyers to sign lease agreements? If I have good neighbours whom I want to assist, then I don’t lease land to them. I simply tell them; you plant here to feed your family without the lease agreement,” Wetang’ula said.

The senator said the demands at the National Produce and Cereals Board were out of order and only meant to frustrate farmers.

“There is an old man with more than 20 acres which he has subdivided to his sons to cultivate. They don’t have title deeds. How will they be sorted?” He said it was time the governor reconsidered its policies or the country could be turned into a “supermarket economy that receives foodstuff from all over the world.”

“Very soon, we are going to have tomatoes coming from a desert somewhere in Israel. We might have maize coming from countries that are known not to produce maize at the expense of our local farmers,” Wetang’ula said.

He said President Uhuru Kenyatta ought to be serious in the manner farmers are handled for the food security agenda of the Big Four to succeed.

He urged Agriculture CS Mwangi Kiunjuri to allow all farmers access to subsidized fertilizer so they can plant in time. “I don’t think there is a crazy farmer who can buy fertilizer to keep it in his bedroom. The fertilizer has an expiry date which means it must be used immediately,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate the government was frustrating farmers; key stakeholders in the actualization of food security.

“It is the planting season and we know our farmers are toiling on their farms to feed this nation.”Meanwhile, the former Senate Minority leader criticised the government’s plan to extend the SGR from Naivasha to Kisumu. Those of us from towns that lie along the old railway line from Mombasa to Kampala via Naivasha, Nakuru, Eldoret, Turbo, Webuye, Bungoma, Miyanga and Malaba are dissatisfied,” he said.

Edited by P. Obuya