In Ruto stronghold, Raila promises to revitalise agriculture

Raila Odinga in Kuresoi, Nakuru

ODM leader Raila Odinga (2nd left) arrives at the Baraka Agricultural College in Nakuru County on March 2, 2022 for a consultative meeting. He promised to revitalise agriculture in the Rift Valley if elected President.

Photo credit: Cheboite Kigen | Nation Media Group

Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) leader Raila Odinga on Wednesday made a grand entry into Kuresoi North and Molo – which are part of Deputy President William Ruto’s Rift Valley stronghold – to a rousing welcome by residents.

The former Prime Minister was received by huge crowds at Baraka Agricultural College, where he held a consultative forum with local leaders and residents. He promised goodies for the region, hailed as the country’s breadbasket, if elected President.

Mr Odinga said he is best placed to deal with the plight of Kenyans, citing his plan to send more resources to counties as proposed in the failed Building Bridges Initiative, which his arch-rival DP Ruto opposed.

Mr Odinga arrived at Baraka College around 11am accompanied by a host of political leaders including governors Lee Kinyanjui (Nakuru), Charity Ngilu (Kitui) and Alex Tolgos (Elgeyo Marakwet), Narok Senator Ledama Ole Kina, Nyeri Deputy Governor Caroline Karugu, MPs Kanini Kega, Lilian Gogo and Babu Owino and former MPs Peter Kenneth, Fred Gumo, Njenga Mungai and Joseph Kiuna.

Pyrethrum sector

The ODM leader has pledged to revitalise the dying pyrethrum sector and allocate more money to agriculture in the country’s budget if he ascends to power.

"My administration will address post-harvest issues, introduce value addition through establishment of a potato processing factory among other interventions," said Mr Odinga.

The ODM leader also promised to revive the collapsed timber industry in the area.

"I will revive the collapsed timber industry once I get into office. I will introduce commercial timber farming to revive the sector while at the same time conserving the Mau Forest," said Mr Odinga.

Earlier, farmers’ representatives poured their hearts out to Mr Odinga, asking him to help revitalise the sector, which is the region’s mainstay.

Mr Odinga also hinted that he would revive the stalled multibillion-shilling Itare dam project in Kuresoi, which was marred by corruption claims.

He also promised better healthcare for all and education for all children on top of a Sh6,000 monthly stipend for vulnerable households.

Plea for peace

Addressing a crowd at the college, he beseeched locals to embrace peace and tranquillity as the nation heads to a season of high-octane politics.

"We want a peaceful environment and a united country in this year’s elections. We want our people to live in peace. That is the spirit of the ‘handshake’ that will enable us to embark on the journey we envisaged as a united nation," Mr Odinga said.

The meeting came days after President Uhuru Kenyatta led his ruling Jubilee Party in approving a coalition with ODM under the Azimio la Umoja banner.

During the Jubilee and ODM conventions in Nairobi, President Kenyatta announced that he and Mr Odinga will hit the road to campaign for the Azimio movement and ensure the latter wins the August 9 presidential election.