By PSCU/Christine Muchira
President Uhuru Kenyatta Saturday said the Jubilee Government has taken unprecedented measures by upgrading miraa to a cash crop and making available billions of Shillings to cushion farmers.
He said his Administration has for the first time given miraa farmers the attention and State support denied them by previous administrations.
The President dismissed opposition leader Raila Odinga’s recent pronouncements concerning miraa as insincere and belated.
He said it was surprising Odinga was feigning concern for miraa farmers when he never took any action to support them when he was Prime Minister in the coalition government.
The President described the opposition leader’s recent claims that Jubilee has not done enough for Miraa farmers as nothing more than a ploy to hoodwink voters in miraa growing regions.
“This is the first Government that has made miraa a cash crop and today there is no difference between coffee farmers and miraa farmers,” said the President speaking in Laare, Meru County.
The President, who was accompanied by Deputy President William Ruto, pointed out that his Government has allocated Sh2 billion to support the miraa sector.
The money will be used to support farmers through loans to be channeled through cooperatives that will be formed once a drive to register those who produce the crop is completed.
The President said his Government has also set up a directorate under the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with affairs to related to miraa farming.
President Kenyatta told residents to ignore propaganda being pushed by the opposition on the Government drive to register miraa farmers.
“Some people are spreading unhealthy propaganda and telling farmers that the registration will be used to tax farmers. That is a lie. The truth is that the data will be used for purposes of guiding State support for the sector,” said the President.
He said the data will be used to set up cooperatives through which farmers can access loans the same way coffee and tea farmers do.
The President said the Jubilee Government is also upgrading the infrastructure network to ease transportation of miraa within Kenya besides working to improve the international market.
The President launched the construction of a road to connect Laare to Isiolo, which will reduce traveling time from four hours to only thirty minutes.
The Government has also allocated Sh300 million to tarmac the Kaelo – Kamukunji – Mutuati road.
“There is no Government prior to the Jubilee Administration that has ever done anything meaningful for miraa farmers before we came into power. They are only going round with propaganda,” said the President.
President Kenyatta – who received a rousing welcome from the residents when he stopped at Nchiru, Kianjai, Ngundune, Laare, Mutuati, Kiongo, Kiengo and Mau on the way to Maili Tatu and Kangeta – said they should avoid divisive politics and remain steadfast in support of his team.
“We should remain united and rally our support behind Jubilee so that the development we have started to implement in this area will continue,” President Kenyatta said.
He said there are six ongoing projects that will provide sufficient water for domestic use and irrigation once they are completed.
The water projects include the Imenti South Bulk Water Supply and Sewerage being constructed at a cost of Kshs 3.7 billion to serve 150,000 people, Ura Dam I which targets a population of 9,000 and is to be constructed at a cost of Kshs 30 million and Ura Dam II to be constructed at a cost of Kshs Kshs 40 million to serve a population of 20,000 people.
Others are the Maua Water Supply I that is being constructed at a cost of Kshs 380 million to serve 57,000 people, Mau Water Project II constructed at a cost of Kshs 900 million targeting to serve 100,000 people and Thangatha Dam that will be constructed at a cost of Kshs 40 million to serve 10,000 people.
On security along the Meru-Isiolo border, President Kenyatta assured residents that the national Government has deployed National Police Reservists to areas where crime is prevalent to beef up security.
The President and his deputy urged residents to reject any attempts to incite them to violence against each other.
The Deputy President urged voters in the region to turn out in large numbers to ensure smooth sailing for Jubilee at the August 8 election.
He said the choice for Kenyans is between the Jubilee team focused on transforming the country and an opposition that has nothing but empty rhetoric and incitement.