Hunted Kiunjuri dragged into another scandal

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Agriculture cabinet secretary has been the center of attention in the ongoing scandals in the agricultural sector.

Even before the maize scandle settles ,  the minister was on Wednesday put to task over pending payments to farmers who supplied livestock to the Kenya Meat Commission between 2015 and 2018.

It is said Sh700 million meant for the payment of livestock farmers may have been lost after it emerged that the cash strapped institution has no funds to settle its debts. The amount was approved in 2015 by the National Assembly through a supplementary budget to benefit about 65,000 livestock farmers and their 300,000 dependents but they are yet to get their dues.

While appearing before the National Assembly’s committee on Agriculture, Agriculture and Livestock CS Mwangi Kiunjuri said the government is doing all it can to ensure the farmers are paid noting that the commission has pending bills of about Sh500 million.

“We have made commitments to the Treasury over the money owed to farmers and the furthest I can push is to have the monies paid,” Mr Kiunjuri told the committee chaired by Mandera South MP Adan Haji.

The CS said that KMC has been experiencing cash flow challenges and is not able to meet its obligations on a timely basis.

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He said this in response to a question by Moyale MP Qalicha Gufu Wario, who sought an update on why the government is taking too long to pay the farmers who supplied their livestock to the commission since 2015.

The livestock sector is critical to the economy as it generates about Sh300 billion in sales of meat both locally and in the export market accounting for about 10 per cent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product.

 

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Mr Haji said that there could be deliberate attempts by high ranking individuals in government, whom he did not name, to cause pain to the families that depend on the meat industry.

“Perhaps there is someone in the executive who doesn’t want KMC to survive because it takes care of all the farmers across the country,” Mr Haji said.

Kwanza MP Ferdinand Wanyonyi wondered why money approved by the National Assembly would be diverted for “unauthorized use.”

Mr Kiunjuri said that of the millions owed to farmers, Sh195 million is for livestock supplies, Sh122.3 million for statutory obligations, Sh82 million for suppliers and Sh92.7 million for off take programme.

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