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Saturday, 10 December 2011

Agri-business


By Ann, Maina and Mutua - LRV team

Unlike the past when agriculture was taken by many as just another occupation, today most farmers treat it as a business and earn their living from the same.

A spot check at Sipili Division of Laikipia West district, in Laikipia County revealed that agriculture has become the daily occupation where many are depending on it for livelihood.

In order to put the whole picture in mind, we interviewed several farmers most of whom had no idea how the sector is transforming people’s lives.

They lack market Information and do not know where to sell their produce. They are being exploited by cartels who are buying maize at poor prices as farmers have no control of the prices of their own produce.

One of the farmers whom we interviewed Mr. Kanyutu Ndegwa said they had tried all ways known to them to raise their economic standards admitting that it was not as easy.

“We have done all we could in order to improve our living standard but all in vain. The cost of production is higher than the proceeds. Our maize is being bought at a very low prices compared to the resources, time and work put in its production,” said Mr. Ndegwa.

He blamed middlemen whom he said had formed cartels that were fleecing farmers their hard earned cash.

“The brokers have invaded Sipili and they are dictating prices as if they gave us hand in producing the crop,” he added.

He said some of the major challenges facing farmers currently in the area include heavy rains which are making transportation of any farm produce hard due to impassable roads.

Lack of proper food storage in the area, inaccessibility of market information and human wildlife conflict also featured prominently on the farmers’ list of challenges.

The farmers are now asking the relevant government arms including the ministry of transport and that of agriculture to intervene in order to save them from the current situation.

They said lack of such assistance would cause them huge losses and possibly drive many of them out of the business.

Sipili divisional agricultural officer concurred with the farmers on the poor road network in the area which he said was causing farmers great suffering since farmers had limited access to the market.

He further said that lack of good means of communications between the farmers and agriculture officers bad severally resulted to bad timing of planting. Other issues, he said, include the existence of fake fertilizers and certified seeds, poor or lack of storage forcing farmers to sell their maize at low prices.

Farmers are now calling upon the government to help them with the right information on farming and marketing in order to ensure they succeed in the agriculture business.
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