Kenya: Full in-Tray for CS Munya As He Tours Nakuru Pyrethrum Factory

The financial crisis, mounting pensioners' debt and morale will top Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya visit to cash strapped Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) in Nakuru.

Interestingly the Jubilee Administration which was elected on the platform of reviving the key sector has done too little to resuscitate the sector that has been lying on its deathbed for more than two decades.

"There is nothing to celebrate. It's too late. The revival rhetoric has been there for now 10 years. I see his visit as a normal government public relations exercise that will not add value," said Ms Wary Wakahiu, a pyrethrum farmer in the Kinungi area.

"As a pyrethrum farmer, I'm tired of revival efforts by the government. This lip service has been there for too long and I'm not amused by the visit by the Agriculture CS Munya to Nakuru," said a visibly unhappy pyrethrum farmer Peter Koech from Kuresoi South.

Mr Munya will be visiting the factory at a time PPCK owes about 200 pensioners who are dying by the day Sh2billion pension money.

At least more than 50 pensioners have died according to their spokesperson Harun Tinga and hundreds of others are lying on their death bed waiting for the final call from their makers.

Pension funds

"Let Mr Munya bring whatever goodies he has in store but what we want to hear from him as pensioners is when the government will pay us Sh2billion pension funds. Our members are dying daily and nobody seems to bother. The High Court directed the government to pay us our outstanding dues but 12 years since the ruling the government has not acted," said Mr Tinga.

He added: "Mr Munya directed PPCK to prepare a Cabinet Paper last year requesting for funding from the Treasury, why has this taken that long for the CS to implement this directive?"

The Cabinet Paper was drafted and submitted to the Ministry headquarters in Nairobi by the former Managing Director Joseph Waweru. The cabinet memo is still gathering dust at the ministry's technical experts shelves.

Apart from the pensioners' issue, when Mr Munya will step into the PPCK factory in Nakuru's dead industrial area Friday, he will be met with an overflowing in-tray on his first-ever visit.

The factory was key to the economy of this country in the 1980s and late 1990s as it used to generate more than a Sh10billion foreign exchange annually on its heydays when the crop was dubbed the white gold.

The CS will be visiting a sector that has been dodged with historical injustices that the government has 'deliberately' given a blind eye to and has refused to address by underfunding the critical sector.

After years of neglect, the government has appointed a new board led by Mr George Wachira and appointed former employee Ms Mary Moraa Ontiri to jump-start its revival efforts in what is seen as too little, too late.

Mr Munya will be representing a government that many disillusioned pyrethrum farmers from 19 pyrethrum growing counties and stakeholders see as a major hindrance to its revival efforts.

The CS is perhaps one of the highest-ranking government officials to make what is seen as a last-minute visit to appease the angry farmers after a series of failed promises ahead of the 2022 General Elections.

Neglected sector

He will be visiting a factory that has been reduced into a shell by lack of funding even as the government pumped billions of shillings in equally struggling sugar, tea, and coffee sectors.

He will be touring a neglected pyrethrum sector that has the potential to boost the government's Big Four Agenda with a specific eye on the manufacturing pillar.

Mr Munya will be visiting a factory that cannot propagate clean planting materials that are essential in revival efforts thanks to an old laboratory that still maintains equipment that was used during the colonial eras of white settlers like Lord Delamare and Lord Egerton before Kenya got its independence.

The CS will be visiting a factory that is reeling in mounting debts running into billions of shillings that have made hawkeyed auctioneers camp at the gate waiting to impound any movable asset.

Interestingly, PPCK has a land asset portfolio of more than Sh5.2billion with prime land in Nakuru Town and huge land parcels in Nyandarua and all the rest of the pyrethrum growing counties that are lying idle.

The workers' morale is at its all-time lowest level and many are not happy working for the mismanaged state agency as they spend most of their working hours idling around and basking in the sun as there is no raw material to crush.

fmureithi@ke.nationmedia.com

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