The government has appointed Mr Joseph Waweru Muigai as managing director of the Nakuru-based Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK).
Mr Muigai, a former financial manager at the Agriculture Food Authority (AFA), becomes the 11th chief executive officer of the financially troubled state agency. He assumes office at a time when the state agency is rocked with massive corruption claims.
Mr Muigai’s replaces the embattled former acting PPCK boss Paul Lolwerikoi who was arrested. Mr Lolweriko was arrested in Nakuru Town on September 27 over economic crimes and other procurement irregularities.
However, while addressing PPCK staff on Thursday, Mr Muigai promised to reclaim the lost glory of the once vibrant company.
The company that used to earn Kenya in excess of Sh10 billion in foreign cash, is in huge debts.
“The revival of this critical sector is not a one man show, we must all play our roles and ensure the farmers get the best from their sweat,” Mr Muigai told PPCK staff on October 17.
He said his first task will be to address farmers’ pending issues such as delayed payments.
“Farmers are the key stakeholders in this sector and I want to assure them that I will engage them and revive the good relationship that has failed over the years resulting into poor production of flowers,” said Mr Muigai.
He added: “I want to bring back the confidence of the farmers to PPCK by ensuring timely payment and move the industry from its current mess.”
He said the workers have many unresolved issues that need immediate attention. The processing plant has been lying idle due to lack of flowers.
“I want to restore the lost confidence in workers and assure them their issues will be resolved if they work as a team,” said Mr Muigai.
On the pending pension arrears for retired workers, Mr Muigai said the huge debt estimated to be in excess of Sh2 billion will be addressed.
“As I settle down in office, the pension issue will form a critical part of my big plans to resolve the sticky issues bedevilling the company,” said Mr Muigai.
He said with the support of the government, he will ensure assets owned by PPCK valued at an estimated Sh4 billion are intact.
“I will closely follow each and every asset registered in the name of PPCK to ensure it is not grabbed,” said Mr Muigai.
AFA Director –General Anthony Muriithi, while welcoming the new MD in Nakuru, said that the government was confident Mr Muigai will transform the sector and revive the ailing Nakuru factory.
“We want to reclaim our international pyrethrum market and these new changes at the top of the company are aimed at reversing the declining pyrethrum production in Kenya,” said Mr Muriithi.
He said the demand for Kenyan pyrethrum in the American, European and Asian markets is still intact because the country produces the best pyrethrum in the content.
“As a government, our strategy is to support the pyrethrum sector by involving women and youth to increase production besides ensuring that farmers are paid promptly,” said AFA boss.
Pyrethrum stakeholders in Nakuru County have welcomed the appointment of Mr Muigai. The Pyrethrum Growers Association (PGA) National Chairman Justus Mochache Monda thanked the government for Mr Muigai’s appointment.
“The new MD should streamline PPCK by cutting corruption chains and sealing all the loopholes,” said Mr Monda.
Pyrethrum pension workers superannuation scheme spokesperson Harun Tinga urged the new MD to revoke all the land leases which were sanctioned by his predecessor.
“The leases are the conduit for looting tax payers’ money as they were irregularly sanctioned and the new MD needs to revisit the irregular deals which are denying the company funds,” said Mr Tinga.