Friday, September 14, 2012

Linking Farmers to Exporters

Farmers in Nguruman must begin approaching production from a business point of view. The District Agricultural Officer Mr. Henry Siro advised farmers that agriculture as a livelihood practice, it should be able to provide profits to the farmers otherwise it’s a futile endeavor.

He was speaking at a meeting organized by Nguruman Irrigation Water Users Association (IWUA) that brought together farmers, Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) representatives, Exporters, Brokers and the Ministry of Agriculture to address low crop prices and market problems facing horticultural produce for export.

Mr. Henry Siro, D.A.O addressing farmers and exporters during a meeting. Photo by Joshua Kisemei
He said that farmers in Nguruman have Kenya Agricultural Research Institute and the Ministry to educate them and guide them on how to practice profitable farming. He also urged the exporters to buy products in a price that will benefit farmers.

Mr. Joseph Sirai, IWUA chair, in the introductions said that the market structures for horticultural produce in Nguruman was efficient a few years back but brokers and other intermediaries have spoiled the market and crop prices.

Makindu Growers and Packers, the main exporters in Nguruman, complained that produce from farmers are not stable since farmers sell to brokers when their prices are high. The exporter complained that farmers are not giving the recommended harvest period for chemicals sprayed. He recommended that for produce to be competitive in the market and to fetch good prices, it should be of good quality.

Farmers requested that a plan of action should be put in place to develop ways that the market for horticultural produce will be streamlined so that they can benefit from their farm produce. Farmers should have contracts with their brokers and exporters to balance the supply and prices.

HCDA announced the enforcing of laws regarding the registration of all agents operating in horticultural produce has been enacted. They instructed all agents and brokers working in Nguruman to register before 31st October 2012. All agents will be required to present a list of the farmers supplying them with produce. Those farmers who do not want to register under an agent can join farmer groups and sell directly to the exporters.

The farmers agreed to abide with the set rules and in one voice promised to work with relevant authorities to address the issue of middle men who make a kill out of their produce while they suffer losses.

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