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Ruto Keeps Off Politics, Delivers Bag Full Of Goodies in Mt kenya Tour 

Ruto Keeps Off Politics, Delivers Bag Full Of Goodies in Mt kenya Tour

 

 

President William Ruto on Thursday steered clear of politics during his tour of the restive Mt Kenya region, instead choosing to address issues touching on the agriculture sector, which is the region’s economic backbone.

Addressing the public in Mitunguu in Imenti South, Meru County, where he launched the construction of a Sh200 million dairy feed manufacturing plant, the President enumerated his administration’s plan to revitalise the dairy, coffee and tea sectors.

Speaking at the Meru Agricultural Society of Kenya (ASK) show ground, the President told more than 41,000 farmers who attended the ninth annual Meru Dairy Union farmers’ day that his administration was keen on addressing problems facing farmers, including provision of subsidised farm inputs.

There have been murmurs among local United Democratic Alliance (UDA) politicians that the Kenya Kwanza administration had neglected the region

The bad blood between the President and his deputy, Mr Rigathi Gachagua, has also seen some leaders criticising Dr Ruto for reneging on a promise he made during the campaigns two years ago that he would never mistreat his deputy.

Nyeri governor Mutahi Kahiga has openly stated that leaders in the region will not allow the President to mistreat Mr Gachagua.

On Thursday, Dr Ruto seemed to renew his camaraderie with Mr Gachagua.

A Cabinet meeting on Tuesday authorised the waiver of Sh6.8 billion owed to coffee societies by farmers ahead of Dr Ruto’s tour of Mt Kenya.

Speaking at the Meru ASK ground, Dr Ruto read the riot act on coffee society managers who he said had secured expensive loans, leading to the huge debt.

“This is the third time the government is waiving these debts and we will not entertain managers of cooperatives securing loans without the express authority of farmers,” the President said, sentiments that were echoed by Mr Gachagua.

“We have the Sh6.7 billion Coffee Cherry Fund with loans being issued by the Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC) at three per cent. This is the money that societies should borrow instead of securing credit from banks at over 20 per cent interest,” he said.

On dairy production, Dr Ruto said farmers would be provided with subsidised sexed semen to improve cattle breeds with a dose set to cost Sh2,000 down from Sh7,000.

He said milk production rose from 36 billion litres to 40 billion litres with a target of 47 billion litres this year.

“Construction of the dairy feed factory will ensure that farmers get quality feeds at affordable prices in order to improve milk production,” he said.

The President directed the New KCC to pay farmers Sh53 per litre of milk to make the firm be at par with the Meru Dairy Union, which was paying farmers at the same rate.

He said plans were underway to vaccinate 22 million cows across the country to ensure that the country was free of livestock diseases, a factor he noted had contributed to dairy products being rejected in export markets.

He asked governors to cooperate with the relevant ministry to ensure that the programme was a success.

On tea, the President said measures had been put into place to ensure that farmers earned more from the crop, adding that earnings in the sector rose to Sh210 billion this year up from Sh180 billion last year.

The Agriculture ministry will provide subsidised fertiliser to tea and coffee farmers at Sh2,500 for a 50-kilo bag, he said. Initially, only tea farmers were able to access the fertiliser.

Other leaders present were Meru Governor Kawira Mwangaza and her Embu counterpart Cecily Mbarire, former Meru governor Kiraitu Murungi and MPs Julius Taitimu (Igembe North) Mugambi Rindikiri (Buuri), Dan Kiili (Igembe Central), Dr John Mutunga (TiganiaWest), John Paul Mwirigi (Igembe South), and Woman Rep Elizabeth Kailemia.

The leaders pledged to support the President and his deputy.

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