Pyrethrum sub sector gets financial boost

The government has cleared Sh 70 million arrears owed to pyrethrum farmers that has been outstanding for the past five years.

Pyrethrum Processing Company (PPC) Managing Director Paul Lolwerkoi said focus had now been shifted to recruiting more farmers to grow the cash crop that was once the fourth largest foreign income earner.

The sub sector received a further boost after the county government of Nakuru injected Sh 29 million into PPC towards research and development of the crop.

Speaker to the County Assembly Joel Kairu said that the devolved unit would lead by action as it trains more extension workers and working closely with Egerton University to realize the dream.

Lolwerkoi indicated that the company’s target was to start with putting 6,000 hectares under the cash crop within 18 counties that had high potential for pyrethrum crop.

We have engaged Kenya Agricultural Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) and other researchers to develop hybrid seed varieties for pyrethrum farmers, he said.

Until the sub-sector hit headwinds from 2003, Kenya was the major producer of the crop in the world, meeting 70 per cent of the global demand.

According to a 2014 report by Pyrethrum Growers Association, Kenya’s production fell 91 per cent between 2003 and 2011, as payment issues at PBK and the rise of synthetic insecticides took their toll.

Currently, the world demand for pyrethrum stands at 8,000 tonnes annually, with the production in Kenya having dropped to less than three per cent of the global requirement.

Majority leader at the Nakuru County Assembly Stanley Karanja said potential farmers of the cash crop lack hybrid seed varieties that were high yielding and disease resistant.

He said that farmers did not have agricultural extension services which have hampered the revival process of the ailing industry that is capable of reducing poverty and unemployment levels in the county.

The majority leader called on the PPC to put in place measures that will eliminate middlemen in the subsector’s recovery strategy.

Lolwerkoi said the processing company had developed high breed seed varieties at its Molo nursery that could cater for 10,000 hectares. He also revealed that the company had at its disposal 1000 kilogrammes of pure pyrethrum seeds ready for farmers’ collection.

Vice Chairman to the Agricultural Committee at the County Wilson Mwangi called on the PPC management to secure farmers’ assets that risked being grabbed by unscrupulous individuals.

Source: Kenya News Agency