Ministry steps in to rescue farmers from rogue middlemen

Growers will sell produce directly at markets that will be set up by ministry across the country.

Tuesday February 16 2016

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett (centre) with West Pokot Deputy Governor Titus Lotee (fourth right) visit Nasukuta abattoir after handing over veterinary diagnostic equipment for a laboratory in Kapenguria to the county governor Simon Kachapin on February 8, 2016. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett (centre) with West Pokot Deputy Governor Titus Lotee (fourth right) visit Nasukuta abattoir after handing over veterinary diagnostic equipment for a laboratory in Kapenguria to the county governor Simon Kachapin on February 8, 2016. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By TIMOTHY KEMEI
More by this Author

The Agriculture ministry is planning to establish a chain of farmers’ markets across the country to get rid of middlemen who exploit growers by buying their produce at low prices.

Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said the new approach will allow farmers to sell their produce at the market directly, instead of having to rely on middlemen.

The minister said it is worrying that farmers, who do the bulk of the work in food production, end up making less money while middlemen rake in huge profits.

The middlemen buy the produce at low prices and sell it at higher prices at the market.

“We have already set up a few markets and the programme is being expanded to get rid of middlemen. Under the plan, growers can leave their farms and directly transport their produce to the market and personally sell it. That will help them earn more,” he said.

The minister spoke in Kericho, where he opened a horticulture market.

Mr Bett said his ministry was working closely with county governments in a bid to improve food production, adding that most of the agricultural functions were now under devolved units.

FISH FARMING

The CS called on residents of the South Rift region not to look down on fish farming but engage in the business, which he said was lucrative.

“Aquaculture is an area that offers a lot of possibilities in terms of income generation. The ministry is campaigning for enhanced fish farming across the country. The demand for fish is far from being satisfied,” he said.

Mr Bett said the ministry was also looking at ways of reducing the cost of dairy farming, including the reduction of the price of inputs.

He said the ministry was encouraging more young people to join the sector.

The ministry seeks to improve the quality of cattle being raised by distributing cheap but high quality bull semen, with four centres already set up to carry out this function.

Deputy Governor Susan Kikwai said many residents of Kericho County rely on agriculture for their upkeep, adding that the regional government was prepared to partner with the national government to help farmers improve their yield.