Kirinyaga farmers have urged the national government to develop policies to make them the major beneficiaries in the agriculture value chain.
The rice, coffee, tea, tomatoes, macadamia and fish farmers said they get very little from their toil due to lack of market, while middlemen benefit more.
They also called for subsidy of fertilisers and pesticides to lower the cost of production.
The farmers spoke on Tuesday during a bottom up economic forum in Gichugu.
Mwea rice farmers lamented the high cost of production and demanded the abolition of irrigation water fees charged by the Water Resources Management Authority, which they termed exploitative.
They also opposed the proposed increment of water charges to 15,000 per acre.
“Warma does not add any value to rice farmers and should be outlawed and the management of irrigation water left to the National Irrigation Board,” Ndung’u Ndegwa, a rice farmer from the Mwea Irrigation scheme, said.
Kenya Kwanza’s presidential running mate Rigathi Gachagua assured residents the coalition’s manifesto will comprise the views collected from them.
Rigathi told farmers that if Kenya Kwanza forms the next government, their interests would be well taken care of and there would be no chance of being short-changed.
He said the cost of fertiliser will be lowered from the current Sh6,000 to Sh2,000 by December 2022 if Deputy President William Ruto is elected the next president.
He also said they will resume construction of all the stalled roads in the county.
Rigathi promised to revive the coffee sector and create an enabling environment for the smooth operationalisation and direct sale of farmers produce at a profit.
He said the sector has been held hostage by a few individuals who have monopolised it for their own selfish ambitions.
“Our duty will be to ensure that the lost glory of the sector is restored. The only vested interest a William Ruto government will have is to ensure farmers get a rightful deserving pay for their toil.”
Gachagua said the bottom-up economic model was centred on putting more money into the pockets of the people at the bottom of the economy.
He said Ruto’s government will set aside a ‘hustler’s fund’ kitty of Sh50 billion to be loaned at five per cent per annum interest, to save people from borrowing from exploitative lenders.
Governor Anne Waiguru said her administration will continue supporting farmers through the county’s Wezesha Kirinyaga economic empowerment programme.
The programme has been funding farmers groups to undertake various profitable agricultural activities.
She said under the plan, farmers have been assisted in poultry, tomato, avocado, dairy and macadamia farming. Pig, beekeepers and fish farmers have also benefited.
Waiguru promised to partner with the national government to construct modern markets and lighting up urban areas and streets to enable a 24-hour economy in the county.
Leaders present at the forum included MPs Ndindi Nyoro of Kiharu and Starehe’s Charles Kanyi (Jaguar), Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi, UDA parliamentary and county assembly candidates and Governor Waiguru’s running mate David Githanda.