By Kelvin Koinet
Horticultural crops development authority (HCDA) represented by Kajiado County HCDA station manager Mr. Kitili has been on the ground at Nguruman since the beginning of this month amid capping farmer’s exploitation by their agricultural produce buyers mostly agents who link farmers and exporters.
A statement from a farmer, Mr. Kahuria Ndung’o said ‘we don’t know which way to go about selling our horticulture produce. Earlier, we had groups but they did not help. Now if the buyers’ agents register with (HCDA) office, does it solve the farmer’s problem or will it leaves us in the same darkness!’
When the Asian vegetables cultivation began in 1992, the business was good. Farmers signed contracts with the exporters and they had accounts with the exporters and payments were made monthly. Later when production was in access, other buyers intruded and started buying in cash. Its then that prices dropped and since then most farmers have vacated the business after realizing they have been running it to loss. Other horticultural produce like mangoes, bananas, tomatoes, watermelon, onion and many other have ever been bought without contracts and have suffer low prices. Mr. Kiruri explained to Nguruman community voices that it is hard to control agricultural business since the market is free at the consumer side. Consumers buy goods where they wish and at the price they can afford at the time and when we become hard on buyers, we might loss the little that we are getting. He further explained that Horticultural produce are perishable so farmers have to sell immediately at the available prices.
A meeting was held on thursday the 25th October 2012 at the Agricultural grounds between HCDA, ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and Nguruman farmers. The aim was to discuss and organize farmer’s best way to sell their horticultural produce and ask them to bear with the current restriction put against the agents buying from the area until they register with HCDA and adhere with the laws therein. The agents will be identified with a budge and a certificate of registration. They will be required to have a list of farmers from whom they are buying produce and the produce each farmer is producing together with a signed agreement between the agent and the farmers group. The agreement will stipulate the agreed produce in terms of type, quantity and quality for a specific period of time and price.
|The meeting at Nguruman Agricultural grounds.|
photo by Kelvin Koinet
Mr. Mabeer Parmuar argued that ‘agents to register with HCDA and farmers will decide on their own where, to whom and how to sell their produce’. Argument was there has been such plan in the past but nothing has been attained. Another farmer, Mr. Oleshakai Ong’eetiai urged the ministry of agriculture and HCDA ‘to have a strong stand to defend farmers since they are in position and are authorized by the government to do so’.
Mr. Kitili from HCDA urged the farmer to join hands with HCDA to make sure that they attain best horticultural produce prices. He said the best procedure will be farmers to form groups so as to organize themselves and sign contracts with the buyers at the agricultural office so as to get appropriate guidance. This will make sure prices are constants and that they are assured of selling the produce.
Farmers concern was whether HCDA will be able to control the agents from exploiting them knowing that they do not have constant produce throughout the year. On the same meeting, TATA chemicals Magadi, a company that runs the soda mining at Lake Magadi reported that farmers are now diverting the water that goes to the companies’ intake and use it for irrigation. This is certainly due to water shortage at the time, a clear indication that farmers will not be able to produce consistently. As farmers are supposed to form groups and elect management committees, there was fear that corruption may foul the process and the consistent of the plan. Exporters are also suspected to corrupt the deal.
An agreement was reached at forming farmers groups and agreements will be signed between agents and farmers.
An elder asked Mr.Kitili to maintain his stand to make sure that the plan is attained saying there have been such leaders with strong ambitions but they were brought down by corruption. ‘Now they just sit in offices and grow big bellies while the people they are supposed to serve are suffering’ he added.