New pyrethrum agency MD Mary Ontiri vows to revive the ailing state agency

Mary Moraa Ontiri

Newly appointed Acting Managing Director of Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya Mary Moraa Ontiri speaks in her office on June 15, 2021.

Photo credit: Francis Mureithi| Nation Media Group

The newly appointed Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) Mary Moraa Ontiri has vowed to turn around the fortunes of the ailing state agency.

Ms Ontiri, who is a former employee of the PPCK, assured farmers tat she will ensure they are paid on time for the delivery of their flowers.

"I have worked in the Pyrethrum Board of Kenya before it was converted to Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya for 29 years and I know what ails the sector. I want to assure the farmers I will streamline the operations during my tenure to ensure the company is back on its profitability lane," said Ms Ontiri.

Speaking to Nation.Africa at her office on Tuesday, Ms Ontiri pointed out that the processor was brought down by bad governance, lack of planting materials and inadequate funding.

New board

"I'm happy the government has appointed a new board to run PPCK and that is a great assurance that there will be more accountability, transparency and good governance. The last time PPCK had a functional board was in 2011," said Ms Ontiri.

She promised to work closely with the 19 pyrethrum growing counties and ensure farmers are paid on time. To attract more farmers to pyrethrum farming, she announced that PPCK had introduced an advance payment system.

"Initially farmers were paid an advance of Sh100 but we have doubled it to Sh200 per kilo at farm gate," said Ms Ontiri. She also promised to revamp nurseries to ensure farmers get quality planting materials.

"Lack of planting materials has been the major problem but I assure farmers we shall revamp all the nurseries across the country to ensure they access quality planting materials near their farms," she added.

Sh200 million

"We're going to revamp our nurseries in Molo, Nyandarua, Kisii, West Pokot and open a new one in Meru because the government has injected Sh200 million to make the project a success," said Ms Ontiri.

She urged the farmers to support her efforts to revive the once vibrant sub-sector that earned the country over Sh10 billion annually in the 1970s and late 1980s.

"Kenya was commanding about 70 per cent of the international market and that is where I want to take this industry to. I urge farmers to support my efforts by delivering their flowers to Nakuru factory," she added.

 Other strategies she plans to use to revive the sector is the introduction of value addition products like insecticides which will earn PPCK more money.

She also promised to address the issue of pending pensioners' dues amounting to more than Sh2 billion.

"There is a Cabinet memo that is supposed to address the pending pensioners' dues and other suppliers and through the Ministry of Agriculture I shall pursue it to save pensioners from further suffering," said Ms Ontiri.