Dairy farmers oppose privatisation of New KCC

Dairy farmers in the country have opposed the proposed privatisation of the New Kenya Cooperative Creameries.

Through their umbrella body — the Kenya Dairy Farmers Federation — the farmers read mischief in the planned sale.

The farmers said they had been kept in the dark over the process.

“We are shocked that the privatisation is ongoing and dairy farmers across the country have been kept in the dark about it…we are hearing that a team has been going round factories on a valuation exercise… they have been to Sotik and Kapsabet yet we were not involved,” said Mr Richard Tuwei, the chairman.

He added: “The New KCC has been serving as the price stabiliser in the milk market. What will happen when it is taken over by an individual? We don’t want to go back to a monopoly that will only benefit a few people.”

Mr Tuwei said they were contemplating on taking the matter to court to challenge the decision.

“The firm has a strong asset base. We want to be involved in assessing the exact value of the company,” he said.

“I know they have more than 372 acres of land across the country…even in Uganda…the asset value is more than Sh20 billion. We are therefore wondering why they are in hurry to sell this firm?” he posed.

The official added that there was need to make the privatisation process public through a meeting of all farmers to enable them understand their role.

“We are wondering why New KCC board of directors who were picked to represent us are silent. We want New KCC to call a stakeholders meeting so that they tell us about these assets,” said Mr Tuwei, adding they welcomed the Sh500 million debt waiver by the national government.

Mr Henry Otsialo, KDFF’s Western Kenya region representative said they feared that the company’s assets will be undervalued.

“Bailing out the company by the government does not mean transfer. Government is just a caretaker. Give farmers the ownership, if we will not manage the institution well then you can sell to a private entity,” said the farmer from Naitiri, Bungoma County.

Mr David Bett, the Chief Executive Officer of the Federation said that the milk production in the country had improved through the extension services offered by the state managed firm.

“As we speak, as more than 300,000 farmers we are unhappy with the way the percentage of shares being sold to the strategic partner. The New KCC has employed many people but if it is privatised, then half of them will lose their jobs,” said Mr Bett.

Early this month, the Privatisation Commission chair Henry Obwocha asked the National Treasury to prioritise the sale of the 100 per cent stake it owns in the dairy firm to farmers.

“Following reconstitution of the Privatisation Commission Board, the commission has made recommendations to the National Treasury that due to the delay in the implementation of the rationalisation programme, some of the transactions be allowed to proceed in view of urgent remedial measures that need to be undertaken. This is, however, a matter for consideration by the government,” said Mr Obwocha.

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