By Victor Nzuma
Cotton farmers in Makueni have asked the government to honour its earlier promise on better purchase price of the commodity.
The farmers who said they have committed hundreds of acres of their land to agriculture now want Makueni Cotton Ginnery to implement the initial price and stop exploiting them.
Farmers in Kalawa and Kathulumbi divisions said the initial Sh65 per kilogramme issued by the ginnery officials when they provided seeds to them had dropped to Sh35 thus breaching the initial contract. They called on the ministry of agriculture to intervene.
Local councillor, Peter Mwanthi, also a farmer, led the protest match and demanded immediate reinstatement of the promised price.
Efforts to reach the officials were unsuccessful but an Assistant Minister for Agriculture Gideon Ndambuki, while calling for better prices, defended the ginneries.
He said ginneries were holding huge stocks of the cotton bought last year due to lack of market.
The minister, however, declined to comment on the so called ‘promised prices’ saying such prices were determined by the agents of the farmers and not the government.
He added that the Cotton Board was only charged with the responsibility of providing farmers with cottonseeds through the ginneries.
Another farmer, Mr Lumbi said he had grown the cotton in more than 100 acres leaving no room for any other produce.
“This is a big disappointment because we committed all our farms to the commodity expecting to benefit from it,’’ he exclaimed.
The councillor appealed to Makueni and Kitui ginneries that have entered an agreement with farmers not to let the farmers down.