Bura irrigated cotton project launch put off
Farmers yet to agree with stakeholders
The launch of the irrigated cotton planting at Bura Irrigation Scheme in Tana River county was called off on Saturday. It emerged leaders and the farmers have resolved problems with key stakeholders in the Sh60 million scheme.
The launch was to be presided over by Industrialisation CS Adan Mohamed. He instead sent his technical adviser on cotton and textiles Rajeeve Arora. Governor Hussein Dado and area MP Ali Wario were absent.
Deputy Governor Jire Siyat welcomed the project, saying it will improve farmers’ livelihoods.He said previous engagements with the National Irrigation Board and other stakeholders failed, which left farmers destitute.
“What we are running away from are prior experiences we have had with stakeholders, which served to enrich a few at the expense of the impoverished farmers,” Siyat said.
“We don’t want to be used anymore. Unless we sit as leaders and farmers to engage the stakeholders, among them Rivatex, Meru Ginneries, AFC and Amiran, we will not append our signature to this agreement.”
Farmers’ representative John Macharia said they want assurance they will not carry the burden in the unlikely event of crop failure due to poor seed quality and delayed payments.
He said out of the 3,000 farmers at Bura Irrigation Scheme, only 1,000 are active. Macharia said the rest are owed Sh240 million by Equity Bank and the Agricultural Finance Corporation. They cannot access credit because they have been blacklisted, he said.