Free trade deal worries farmers (Daily Nation (Kenya))

Maize farmers in Trans Nzoia County are a worried lot owing to the national government’s commitment to strengthen the East African trade protocol that allows free trade.

Growers who spoke in Kitale on Friday said the unrestricted trade area has destabilised the price of maize in the country owing to flooding of the market with cheap grain from Uganda.

They said ongoing debate over sugar importation is not the way of finding a lasting solution to the problems bedevilling local producers.

Maize farmers are going to lose a lot in the free trade area since the cost of producing maize in Kenya is higher than Uganda, area chairman of the Kenya National farmers Federation, Mr William Kimosong, said.

According to Water and Irrigation Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa, the government will not dishonour a deal between Kenya and Uganda since it is committed to enhancing the integration of the East African Community.

CRITICISM

The government is tarmacking all roads in counties bordering Uganda to enhance business between the two countries, said Mr Wamalwa in Kitale.

This comes as a section of leaders in the county came under sharp criticism for being at the forefront of defending the government on the raging sugar importation issue.

Critics said they are surprised at the spirited efforts to defend the sugar deal yet they are silent on the price of maize which is the county’s staple.

Former Saboti MP Davies Nakitare and Sikhendu MCA Andrew Kutitila said the leaders are being hypocritical since locals in the region are mainly maize growers.

Why are they so much concerned about sugar which is an issue of western Kenya and are silent on the price of maize which directly affects this county? he said in Kitale.

Mr Kutitila said leaders in the region who are agitating for trade with Uganda at the expense of the Kenyan farmers are undermining their role of representation.

These leaders have shown clearly that they are not concerned with the cheap Ugandan maize that has destabilized the Kenyan market, making farmers to incur losses, said Mr Kutitila.

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