The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: BAT, Mastermind Asked to Build Processing Plant

MALAKISI farmers yesterday issued an ultimatum to BAT and Mastermind Tobacco Companies to build tobacco processing plants in the area. Deputy Speaker of the Busia County Assembly, Moses Ote said it was a pity that farmers in the tobacco growing zones in Busia and Bungoma were being used like Guinea Pigs.

Speaking during the victory party for Malaba Central County representative Ishmael Orodi, Ote said the two firms must construct processing plants in Malakisi region. "Should they develop cold feet on the matter then I shall initiate a motion in the County Assembly to pass legislation to that effect.

We cannot allow our farmers to burn their midnight oil to produce the crop and sell it to BAT and Mastermind and yet processing is done in Nairobi and Thika, he said. Ote also put Unilever on notice for using the Malaba and Busia Border points as export points for their products to the Great lakes region.

He said like BAT and Mastermind, Unilever and other related companies must establish a factory in Malaba instead of ferrying the finished product from Nairobi. "We need the devolved system of government to benefit the locals in Busia County instead of watching from the periphery goods passing their territory and they gain nothing.

We must make Busia County competitive, thus the need to set all factories. Imagine Mwea rice being sold in local supermarkets and yet we produce the same rice, he said. Ote said it is high time farmers in Western Kenya got the value for their products by having them undergo value additions to spur their livelihoods.

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