Pray for me as I fight 'powerful' cartels, Rigathi Gachagua asks Kenyans

Rigathi Gachagua

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua addresses mourners during the burial of Mary Wangeci, the mother of Bishop Daniel Kabono at Kagonye Secondary School in Nyeri County on January 21, 2023. He said that the war against cartels in the coffee, tea, and milk sectors is on.

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua has admitted that cartels in the coffee, tea and milk sectors are powerful and urged Kenyans to pray for him as he reforms the agricultural sector.

Mr Gachagua has revealed that it will not be easy to remove ‘powerful’ cartels from the value chains of the three sectors.

“I am requesting you to pray for me. It is not easy to snatch the udder from a calf which has been sucking milk without interference. Telling that calf to cease sucking milk that belongs to the farmer will create problems and I know they will fight back…..there will be war,” Mr Gachagua said.

 “We will receive some kicks from them but that will not worry us. We will ensure that our farmers get dignified pay for their produce,” he added.

He spoke on Saturday at Kagonye village in Othaya, Nyeri County, during the burial of Mary Wangeci Kambono.

He accused former President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration of failing to implement reforms in the agriculture sector.

“In the previous regime, it was hard to enforce reforms in the agriculture sector because those who were running the government were partners in the scheme to oppress farmers. All the banks, coffee, tea and tea belong to them and their only mandate was to make profits and hide their wealth abroad,” Mr Gachagua said.

The DP exuded confidence that he will succeed in implementing the reforms with support from President Ruto.

 “We will succeed in this fight because President Ruto and I have no business or interest in those three sectors. The game has changed now. We managed to fight and succeed against those individuals that oppressed us by boasting about the deep state and system. There is no way we are going to lose this battle,” he said.

Mr Gachagua alleged that cartels in the agriculture sector had started influencing a section of the media to fight his reform agenda.

“Those people are tough and have influenced some media companies to fight me. If you look at me, do I look like someone that can be frightened? I want to tell those cartels to continue influencing the media to fight and taint my name, but they will no longer embezzle money belonging to farmers,” he said.

In an Executive Order issued on January 9, President Ruto tasked Mr Gachagua to oversee the implementation of the coffee sub-sector reforms.

Besides performing duties specific to the office of the Deputy President, he will oversee the implementation of the reforms that were spearheaded by the Coffee Sub-Sector Reforms Implementation standing committee.

Dr Ruto’s administration plans to source a direct foreign market for all coffee produced in Kenya to weed out brokers in the crop’s value chain.

Cooperatives, micro, small and medium enterprises Cabinet Secretary Simon Chelugui recently said the price of coffee had been deteriorating at the Nairobi Coffee Exchange.

“This has been a great challenge and that is why my ministry was created to source for the direct market of coffee so that all the brokers can be eradicated and ensure that our farmers get better pay for their produce,” Mr Chelugui said in Nyeri town recently.

“Our Nairobi auction is supposed to be a free open market. We have three or four individuals who have put a ceiling on our price and created a cartel of buyers of coffee. We are investing so much and yet our farmers are not enjoying the sweat of their work,” he added.

He said the government will not relent in the fight against cartels in the sector.

“It is the duty of the Kenya Kwanza government to give farmers a minimum return on their produce,” Mr Chelugui said.