Bura ir­ri­gated cot­ton project launch put off

Farm­ers yet to agree with stake­hold­ers

The Star (Kenya) - - Counties Coast - STEPHEN ASTARIKO @stephenAs­tariko

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.

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