Prioritise crops for funding, Central governors tell State 

Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga and Governor Mutahi Kahiga 

Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga and Governor Mutahi Kahiga during a meeting at Kangocho Secondary School in Nyeri County where they had accompanied Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua on March 29, 2023. 

Photo credit: Joseph Kanyi | Nation Media Group

Governors from the Central Economic Regional Bloc (Cereb) want avocado, coffee, macadamia and other farm produce included in the priority list of State funding.

The government has identified nine value chains for financing, including leather and leather products, tea, rice and edible oils.

The county bosses say the list does not capture what is largely produced in the region.

“Cognisant of the fact that Kenya is the largest producer of avocado and pyrethrum in Africa, the third largest producer of macadamia in the world, the fifth producer of coffee and the sixth largest producer of potatoes, we resolve to engage the government and ensure the value chains of coffee, avocado, pyrethrum, macadamia, potatoes, bananas, maize and wheat are included in the list,” the bloc said in a communication after a meeting in Naivasha.

The meeting was attended by bloc chairman Mutahi Kahiga (Nyeri), Kimani Wamatangi (Kiambu), Muthoni Njuki (Tharaka Nithi), Moses Kiarie Badilisha (Nyandarua) and Laikipia Deputy county boss Ruben Kamuri, who represented Governor Joshua Irungu.

They said Cereb contributes 28 per cent of Kenya’s GDP.

The governors promised to engage the government with a view of ensuring that the missing produce is included in the priority list of funding.

They pledged to enact laws that would see the region reap big from agricultural produce.

Opposed demos

At the same time, the governors opposed to the ongoing anti-government demonstrations, citing looting and destruction of property.

Mr Kahiga said the protests are no longer peaceful, adding that demonstrators are acting against the spirit of the drafters of the Constitution.

The Nyeri county boss added that the demonstrations being staged every Monday and Thursday are damaging Kenya’s fragile economy.

“These protests have become violent and chaotic. We, therefore, call on our people from the 10 counties and the national arena not to engage in wanton destruction of property,” the governor said.

Mr Kahiga called on the organisers of the protests to ensure their supporters do not engage in unlawful acts.

The Nyeri county boss added that though picketing and demonstrations are allowed by the Constitution, what is happening in the country is unacceptable and needs to stop.

“It is regrettable that these protests have degenerated into battles between police officers and demonstrators. It is hurting and will continue hurting county and national government economies,” Mr Kahiga added.

Despite the concerns of the governors and other parties, Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition leader Raila Odinga maintains that the protests will go on as planned. 

The opposition accuses the government of doing little to address the rising cost of living. It is also demanding the opening of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) servers used in the August 9, 2022, presidential vote. 

During the signing of the Cereb partnership and development memorandum of understanding, Mr Njuki urged for a better framework at the national level that ensures Kenyans reap from their efforts in the farm.

He called for a change on the policy of funding regional economic blocs, saying they play a significant role in promoting economic growth, especially when engaging development partners.

“We want to improve the economy of our region, especially on the value chain on crops. The government needs to re-evaluate the value chain programme,” he added.

Governor Njuki said the programme needs to be rewritten, adding that it should not be rushed through the ministries without the input from the bloc leaders.

The Tharaka Nithi governor decried “victimisation” by government agencies, citing the Auditor-General and Controller of Budget offices which bar the financing of regional economic blocs.

“The blocs should not only depend on donors, well-wishers and NGOs for funding for we will be acting like beggars. What we need is auditing such ventures and prudent use of the public funds,” Mr Njuki said. 

The governors pledged to increase money allocated to health in an effort to combat diseases that largely affect vulnerable families, including tuberculosis, malaria, HIV/Aids and cancer.