Speaking during a farmers meeting in Kapsabet Training College last Friday, Mr Zachariah Kuto, the Kenya National Federation of Agricultural Producers national vice chairman, said it was unfortunate that farmers were struggling to repay loans they received from AFC and other financial institutions, yet their crops either withered long before the harvest or never grew.
“We expected the El Nino rains as predicted by the meteorological department to be our saviour when we invested a lot of money on agriculture. The government should compensate us, so that we prepare for next the planting season,” said Mr Joseph Korir, a farmer.
Mr Kuto appealed to the government to inject new blood into the department to improve its performance.
“The body seems to be ill-equipped and unless a radical surgery is done to rid it of sleeping employees, farmers will continue counting losses through their inaccurate information,” he said.
He also asked the department to own up and apologise to Kenyans, saying farmers who were prepared to make huge profits, had experienced a double loss, given that they hardly harvested enough from the previous season, due to the unpredictable weather and are now spending days begging financial institutions not to attach their properties over defaults in servicing loans.
The farmers, who borrowed millions of shillings from the Agricultural Finance Cooperation (AFC) and invested in farming during the expected El Nino rains, also want the government to write off the loans, saying they were misled and ventured into planting wheat, maize, beans and other fast maturing crops, in expectation of a better harvest.
On climate change, Mr Kuto said Kenyan farmers supported the government’s commitment and felling of eucalyptus tress near rivers, which have caused rivers to dry up posing danger to millions of Kenyans who depend on the water sources.
Mr Musa Barno, Kenya National Agricultural Federation of Producers (KNAFP)- Uasin Gishu branch chairman, said farmers want all wetlands protected from human encroachment.
Mr Barno led farmers in demanding that fertiliser prices be reduced further to Sh1,500 per bag to allow more farmers venture into farming and improve the country’s food security.
They also asked the government to revoke land title deeds which had been issued to individuals who live around wetlands in Kenya.
They blamed local authorities for failing to protect wetlands yet they are trustees of public land within their areas of jurisdiction.
During the meeting all KNAFP Nandi branch farmers’ representatives were re-elected to serve for another term.