Maize farmers in the North Rift have been lamenting over maize prices which has never been stable. Last year the National Cereals and Produce Board bought maize from farmers at Ksh 3600. However, this year the cabinet has recommended Ksh 2300. This has caused uproar in the north lift as Mp’s Alfred Keter and his counterparts Joshua Kuttuny and Silas Tiren have been in the forefront in condemning the prices. Regarding this issue, DP Ruto has hit back at the politicians who according to him, thinks too small and are opposed to calls of diversification to other types of crops other than maize.
DP RUTO ON DIVERSIFICATION
“I heard some people say the other day that they are not interested in diversification because you cannot put avocados in a store or you cannot feed avocados on initiates,” he said.
“People are producing for markets to export while others are thinking of how to produce to go and put in a store. That is how low some people think in our country.”
In a scathing attack on the DP, the rebel Jubilee legislators alleged the DP has bought a 500-acre piece of land in Congo and that he was positioning himself as the principal maize supplier by discouraging the region from maize farming.
“You can’t be telling us to diversify in avocados, plant macadamia but you are not telling us what happened to maize,” Keter said.
The MPs did not, however, back their allegations with any evidence.
They claimed Ruto was behind the prices which they termed too low.
“We want to tell the DP that we know the problems and cartels frustrating farmers are directly linked to him and his office and that is why we want all leaders probed,” Keter said.
But Ruto says that the government has signed many export treaties and it is time the region stopped overdependence on subsistence maize production.
“The President was in China for the China Expo and the primary thing he went to do is ensure we open the Chinese market to Kenyan exports,” Ruto said.
He said the answer to achieving double-digit growth of the GDP and manufacturing growth of up to 15 per cent lies in the country’s export strategy.
The Dp said the government is keen on increasing potato production five-fold and expanding rice production by 300 per cent.
Ruto said the government is focused on diversification to achieve the Big Four Agenda.
He said the MPs need to be encouraged to see the bigger picture and the economic potential that diversified farming will bring the region and the country at large.
He said Kenya can now access the Chinese export market through exports.
“We now have signed the phytosanitary agreement that will now make it possible for Kenyans to export macadamia, avocados, horticulture, tea, coffee and pyrethrum to the Chinese market,” Ruto said.
He urged counties to exploit the rising export market space by repositioning their production strategies to feed the export market.
“That will be the turning point for our economic fortunes as a country,” Ruto said.
So, what are the advantages of diversification?
If diversification into hass avocado and macadamia is done, you’re likely to grasp a range of benefits which you don’t often find in a traditional farm:
- Increased revenue – by taking on new activities you and your family are likely to enjoy an increased farm income and a better quality of life.
- Adaptability – branching out encourages you to be willing to change and look out for other opportunities. By adding a new activity you will learn what works for you and your farm and be better able to make further changes in the future and respond to new opportunities as they arise.
- Security – by moving into new activities farms can provide you and your family members with a long term future and greater stability. By branching out you will increase the number of sources of revenue for your farm ensuring that you are less susceptible to any one income source letting you down.
- Tradition – diversifying can provide you and your family with a means of carrying on your farming tradition. While the focus of diversifying may be on increasing income and securing a future it can provide the means of subsidising and continuing the traditional activities that are valued and enjoyed.
- Develop new skills – running a new venture will provide the opportunity to increase your skills and expand your network of business contacts. From management to marketing and finance to customer service diversifying will develop your business flair.
Being realistic in your budgeting is critical as a common pitfall is to over estimate income and to under estimate the costs of running the business.
Let us not over-rely on just one type of crop. We urge farmers to start thinking about the future and outside the box. If you are a coffee farmer, why don’t you inter-crop with macadamia, there is no harm in so doing. If you are a tea farmer, plant hass avocados at the edges of your farm.
The other farmers such as maize farmers, I urge you to have a section where you can plant other crops and fruits. Most successful farmers are those who have done diversification.