Waiguru slams imports of cheap rice, rejects water tariffs on farmers

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru.

Photo credit: File | Nation Media Group

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru wants imports of cheap rice controlled to protect farmers in Mwea from unfair trade competition.

Addressing a campaign rally in Kiorugari and Kombuini villages, Ms Waiguru said that though the region produces 80 per cent of rice consumed in Kenya, farmers are impoverished due to lack of market for their produce. 

Rice imports have led to poor prices, forcing farmers to sell their produce at a loss as the market is flooded with cheap imports, she argued.

“Importation of rice should not be allowed until all the rice produced in Mwea is sold," she said, noting that the influx of rice from Asian countries is hurting farmers.  

Imported rice is normally sold at lower prices compared with Mwea pishori rice, which has always been in high demand.

Unscrupulous traders

Unscrupulous traders have also found a way of blending imported rice with Mwea pishori to give it the much loved aroma. 

The governor said imported rice should only be allowed when there are shortages. 

She also called for irrigation water tariffs to be abolished, saying they increase the cost of rice production at the expense of the farmers. 

“Implementation of the new Water Resources Management Authority (Warma) tariffs must be stopped and water be given freely to the farmers since they are taxpayers,” she said. 

“Besides, the new Thiba dam has increased irrigation water and therefore it doesn’t make sense that anyone should increase water prices.”

Defending her seat

If implemented, the new water tariff could see rice farmers pay Sh15,000 per acre of rice, a cost growers have opposed, saying it will drive them out of business.

Ms Waiguru, who is defending her seat on a United Democratic Alliance (UDA) ticket, accused opponents of destroying her campaign posters and said they had sensed defeat.

She vowed that her team would not engage in acts of lawlessness like pulling down the posters of her opponents or engaging in violence.  

She also asked voters to reject Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and independent candidates, saying they are out of touch with the needs of ordinary people. 

“The reason I am asking you to vote for UDA is because the bottom-up economic model seeks to address problems affecting the common man, unlike our competitors who want to continue with the trickle-down model which focuses on a few people at the top,” she said. 

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