Miraa farmers have blamed Members of Parliament for the delay in disbursement of Sh906 million earlier allocated to revive the sector.
The farmers said MPs had gone quiet on the matter, even as 2022 politics dominated meetings across the county.
Of the Sh906 million, Sh879 million was shared among three counties – Meru (Sh670 million), Embu (Sh167 million and Sh42 million for Tharaka-Nithi – while the balance was set aside for administrative duties.
The funds were to be used to sink boreholes, build water pans and markets.
A nine-member technical committee was set up to oversee implementation of a 2017 Task Force Report which recommended money should that a fund should be set aside to revive the sector.
On Friday, Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi held talks with the technical committee and noted that a legal framework to implement projects was now in place.
“I implore the team to also consider miraa value addition so that farmers can diversify their products and expand markets within and outside the country,” the governor posted on his Facebook page.
But the farmers expressed fear that with the money having reverted to Treasury, it might be allocated to other projects.
“Politicians talk about who will be governor in 2022 but they are not pushing for the release of the money, they have failed us,” said Paul Kobia, a farmer in Maua.
Imenti North MP Rahim Dahood accused the implementation committee of taking too long to come up with tangible projects.
“They are spending money on meetings and nothing has been done so far. Although miraa is not grown in my constituency, I feel for the farmers because they have not benefited more than two years after the money was allocated,” Mr Dahood said.
However, Igembe North MP Maoka Maore said the money was still intact and asked farmers not to worry.
“We are aware that the cash went back to Treasury for reallocation, however, it will not be used on any other project,” Mr Maore said.
Nyambene Miraa Traders Association (Nyamita) chairman Kimathi Munjuri, who is also a member of the committee, faulted the legislators saying they had abdicated their duty to push for the release of the money.
“Our MPs have been quiet over this matter and I blame them for the delayed release (of the funds). They have failed us and now we have to take the blame from farmers who think we hood winked them,” Mr Munjuri said.
He also disputed claims by Mr Maore that there were procurement delays, saying a tender for construction of water pans and drilling of boreholes was floated long time ago but no contractor had been awarded.
“We went round identifying sites where the markets would be constructed and designs were done. Farmers, who are wondering what happened, keep telling us we duped them,” he said.