Government urged to give title deeds to Mwea rice farmers

Monday March 14 2016

A farmer washes his oxen after ploughing his

A farmer washes his oxen after ploughing his rice paddy in Mwea, Kirinyaga County. An aspirant for the Kirinyaga County Woman Representative’s seat, Wangui Ngirichi, has called on the government to issue title deeds to rice farmers from the giant Mwea Irrigation Scheme. PHOTO | JOSEPH KANYI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By GEORGE MUNENE
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An aspirant for the Kirinyaga County woman representative’s seat, Wangui Ngirichi, has called on the government to issue title deeds to rice farmers from the giant Mwea Irrigation Scheme.

She said the national government was taking too long to give out the vital land documents to the farmers.

Mrs Ngirichi observed that for more than 40 decades farmers had been living as tenants as if they are foreigners in their own country.

She said the farmers could not access bank loans because they do not have title deeds that they can offer as security.

"The farmers have suffered for long and it is high time that the government issues them with the documents so that they can become legal land owners,” she said on Sunday in Ciagiini Village in Mwea Sub-County after donating chairs worth Sh100,000 to the Wendani women group.

Mrs Ngirichi noted that the Mwea scheme was taken over by the National Irrigation Board for rice growing and research soon after independence and the board promised to return it to the community after 20 years.

RETURN FARMS TO OWNERS

"Twenty years are over and the government is yet to return the rice farms to the rightful owners," she said.

The aspirant, who is a businesswoman, said farmers were tired of waiting to be given back their land.

"The government should be realistic and give out the title deeds to more than 5,000 farmers who have been in the scheme for many years," she said.

Mrs Ngirichi said she was born and brought up in the scheme and she had seen how the rice farmers had undergone untold suffering.

She vowed to fight until the farmers get the land documents.

Mrs Ngirichi also called on the National Cereals and Produce Board to establish stores in Ngurubani Town where farmers can collect subsidized fertilizer.

She complained that farmers were travelling 20 kilometres to the Sagana NCPB stores, incurring high transport costs.

"The stores should be brought closer to the rice farmers so that the cost of transporting fertilizer to their farms can be drastically reduced," she said.