Governor Waiguru calls for control on cheap rice imports to shield Mwea rice farmers from unfair trade
Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru has called on the government to control importation of cheap rice in order to shield local rice growers from unfair trade competition. The governor who was addressing a rally in Kiorugari and Kombo-ini in Mwea on Wednesday said that despite the region producing most of the rice in the country, rice farmers have remained impoverished as a result of lack of market for their produce. She said that rice imports from other countries has led to diminishing prices of rice forcing farmers to dispose their rice at a loss since the market is flooded with cheap rice. “Importation of rice should not be allowed until all the rice produced in Mwea and other schemes in the country is depleted”, she said, noting that the influx of imported rice from Asian country is hurting farmers.
The imported rice is normally sold at a cheaper price compared to Mwea pishori rice which has always been in high demand. Unscrupulous traders have found a way of blending the imported rice using the Mwea pishori to give it the much loved aroma. The governor said that imported rice should only be allowed into the country to bridge the gap when there is shortage.
She also called for the abolishment of irrigation water tarrifs which she said increases 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 given freely to the farmers since they are tax payers. Besides, the new Thiba Dam has increased irrigation water and therefore it doesn’t make sense that anyone should increase water prices” she said. If implemented, the new water tariff could see rice farmers pay Ksh. 15,000 per acre of rice, a cost that rice farmers are also opposed to as they say will drive them out of the practice.
At the same time Waiguru who is defending her gubernatorial seat accused opponents of destroying her campaign posters saying that she will not engage in acts of lawlessness like pulling down posters for her opponents or engaging in violence. She said that campaign her mantra ‘Wira Warie’ which translates to ‘Let the work speak’ was resonating well with voters since they are beneficiaries of her development initiatives and projects that are visible across the county.
She also asked voters to reject both Azimio and independent candidates since they have no touch with the common man. “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” Waiguru explained.