By Dennis Rasto
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peter Munya says the government has released Ksh 40 million for purchasing pyrethrum seedlings in a bid to ramp up pyrethrum production in 18 high potential Counties.
CS Munya says the money will be disbursed to the Counties immediately to facilitate the purchase of seedlings to enable farmers to begin planting the crop with the ongoing short rains.
He said the seedlings will be sourced from available certified nurseries in the country in a move aimed at spurring production of the crop whose product-pyrethrin – is in high demand globally.
The CS was speaking today in Molo during a consultative forum with farmers from Molo and Kuresoi Sub counties.
He issued seedlings to the pyrethrum farmers and 4 new pickup trucks to the Pyrethrum Processing Company ( PPCK) to enhance the distribution of pyrethrum seedlings and enhance extension services to farmers in the County.
The CS said researchers at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Organization (KALRO) are in the process of developing high-yielding and disease-resistant seedlings to be distributed to farmers by April next year.
Munya said the central government in collaboration with the county governments is committed to supporting farmers in the subsector to increase the acreage of the crop for both domestic and international.
He said the initiative also seeks to encourage the participation of the private sector in the growing and processing of pyrethrin to make the subsector of the competition after a decade’s slump.
Mr. Munya encouraged farmers to collect seedlings from the County governments and promised prompt payment at competitive rates on delivered flowers.
Currently, the Nakuru-based Pyrethrum Processing Company (PPCK )is paying Ksh.200 -250 for every kilogram of pyrethrum flowers delivered at the processing plant.
Delayed payments and lack of planting material led to the collapse of the subsector which economists say has the potential to provide gainful employment to at least 2 million people in the areas.
CS Munya hopes deliberate public-private partnerships will scale up pyrethrum acreage from the current 2,000 to 10,000.
The CS said he has tasked the board to help revamp the subsector by inspiring investment.
Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui commended the move saying that a vibrant Pyrethrum sector will help shore up rural economies by providing on and off-farm jobs to women and youths.
Kinyanjui said the County Government of Nakuru will sustain awareness campaigns in high potential areas in the effort to rebuild confidence among farmers after years of grower apathy.
He urged farmers to venture into pyrethrum growing saying his office is engaging players in the private sector to buy pyrethrum flowers from farmers at competitive prices.
Governor is a Kinyanjui observed that as the world adopts organic farming practices, the demand for pyrethrum products will continue growing making and this will create sustainable livelihoods to farmers of the crop.
The Governor appealed to the national government to fast-track modernization of the processing equipment at the Pyrethrum Processing Company for a higher processing capacity.
The company has a crushing capacity of 10 Metric tons up from 2 metric tons a day last year.
He said that the devolved unit has also allocated Ksh.50 Million to the revival of the subsector in what he described as a spirited bid by his government to transform agriculture into a job and wealth creation pathway.
Kinyajui said the money will be spent on seedlings certified by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) for farmers wishing to grow pyrethrum.
Pyrethrum is processed to obtain pyrethrin which is a key ingredient in the manufacture of pesticides and insecticides.