Deputy President William Ruto has asked leaders to be sincere with the electorate on the crop diversification discourse.
The Deputy President wondered why some leaders were opposed to the diversification program that is meant to end the current over reliance on maize as both a cash crop and food crop in Rift Valley and Western region.
Ruto said there was need for farmers in the traditional maize growing regions to embrace other crops that make good food and cash crops alternatives.
He said: “We must change our ways, we cannot be fighting year in year out over the price of maize. We must find how we will ensure we have food and crops that earn us money as well.”
He added: “If someone tells you to rely on one crop, that person is misleading you. We must think about diversification.”
The Deputy President spoke in Kitale Show Grounds in Trans Nzoia County during the Kitale catholic diocese family day where leaders raised concerns over the low price of maize.
Mr Ruto was accompanied by Senate Speaker Ken Lusaka, Governors Patrick Khaemba (Trans Nzoia), John Lonyangapuo (West Pokot), MPs Chris Wamalwa (Kiminini), Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Catherine Wambilianga (Bungoma County), Ferdinand Wanyonyi (Kwanza), Janet Nangabo (Trans Nzoia), Paul Katana (Kaloleni) and Lilian Tomito (West Pokot).
Mr Khaemba said he had faced opposition from leaders in the county who have been asking farmers not to “abandon” maize farming for other alternatives.
The Deputy President told farmers to consider investing in tea, coffee, ovacado, macadamia and dairy farming that will earn them more money to supplement maize farming.
He said the diversification program was in line with the Government’s Big Four food security agenda citing the recent Blue Economy Conference that seeks to explore marine food.
Mr Ruto said the Government will give Trans Nzoia County 35 milk coolers to boost dairy farming in the region.
At the same time, the Deputy President said the Government is ready to work with all elected leaders irrespective of their political affiliation with the aim of developing the country.
He appealed to elected leaders to shun petty politics and focus on serving Kenyans.
Mr Ruto said: “As leaders we have all united irrespective of our political parties, we are now one team focused on serving Kenyans.”
Mr Khaemba said his office and Trans Nzoia County Assembly are focused on developing the county in partnership with the National Government.
He said: “The County Assembly and I decided to work with the Government and shun politics. We used politics as vehicles to power.”
Mr Barasa asked opposition leaders to stop using the handshake to undermine the Deputy President and instead use it to develop opposition strongholds.
He said: “I urge my colleagues from Nyanza, use the handshake to revive projects that stalled when Raila was Prime Minister.”
Ms Tomito told Mr Ruto to continue building bridges of friendship with other leaders ahead of the 2022 race.
He said: “If we work with others our work will be easy in the future.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Mr Wamalwa who asked the Deputy President to continue establishing networks across the country.