The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Farmers Want New KCC Reforms Halted

Farmers in Rift Valley have asked the government to stop the planned privatisation of the New Kenya Co-operative Creameries and return the company to farmers.

The farmers said they previously owned the company and it will be wrong for the government to sell shares to other groups. "The company was grabbed from farmers and when the government bought it back, it promised that the firm would be reverted back to milk producers. That is what we want," said Major (rtd) Augustine Cheruiyot in Eldoret.

Cheruiyot was among farmers' representatives who met to discuss issues affecting production in the agricultural sector. Other representatives included Moira Chepkok and Musa Barno from the Kenya National Farmers Union.

He said farmers are aware there is a plan by the government to sell off KCC by publicly floating shares and vowed to oppose the move.

He said the public floating of the shares will deny farmers the right to own the company since rich individuals will buy all the shares.

A Kenya Farmers Association director Kipkoror Menjo said they will not allow the government to sell off the firm. "The shares should be for farmers only and workers of the company and not traders who will take over the firm,"said Menjo.

Under the privatisation plan, the government plans to sell off more than 80 per cent of shares with only 40 percent going to farmers.

The rest of the shares will be sold out through the stock exchange and farmers fear traders with no interest in thier welfare will take over the company.

KCC collapsed in 1980s when it was taken over by influential individuals during the Kanu regime before former President Kibaki's regime retrieved it and promised to hand it over back to farmers.

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