Kenya Meat Commission clears Ksh.250M debt owed to farmers after military takeover

Kenya Meat Commission clears Ksh.250M debt owed to farmers after military takeover

The Kenya Meat Commission has cleared the bulk of debts it owed livestock farmers and other suppliers since it was taken over by the military in September.

Interior Cabinet Secretary Dr. Fred Matiang’i said the takeover by the Kenya Defence Forces of the loss-making firm had also led to nearly 30 percent increase in the number of livestock supplied to the Athi River-based meat processor by farmers and other suppliers motivated by faster payments for deliveries.

“Through the government transfer of KMC to the Ministry of Defence, we have managed to clear Ksh.250 million debt owed to livestock farmers. A further Kshs. 150M has been allocated to clear debts to other general suppliers in this financial year. The other managerial issues in running the KMC facilities are now being effectively addressed,” said Dr. Matiang’i.

The CS, who also chairs the Cabinet committee that coordinates national government development projects, defended the transfer of KMC to KDF as a logical and necessary move that was informed by the mutual interests of the two organisations and those of livestock farmers and the country in general.

“As its largest client, the military had a natural stake in seeing that the KMC was efficiently managed while the meat processor stood to benefit from a guaranteed market, Dr. Matiang’i said.

He was speaking on Tuesday during the first of the six planned virtual public lectures on the opportunities and challenges facing the livestock and other sectors under the Big Four agenda that was organised by the President’s Delivery Unit and the Strathmore Business School.

President Kenyatta’s directive on the handover of KMC to the military in September touched off criticism on the legality of the move. But Dr. Matiang’i dismissed the criticism as an unhealthy obsession with processes at the expense of results.

He said under the military watch, KMC had put an end to the recurrent practice of sinking public funds to keep it afloat.

“We have lost opportunities to develop KMC under the frameworks we had. We kept sinking money in billions. It is because of incompetence, poor management and corruption that the parastatal could not move. I believe what we want is results. We need to focus on results and not processes,” Dr. Matiangi said.

The CS further said the government was keen to position KMC as the main meat supplier to public institutions such as prisons and learning institutions to boost its client base and to promote demand for its services while also eyeing the lucrative foreign market.

The government, he added, also plans to invest more in livestock to create jobs and revenue opportunities for a sector that currently contributes 12 percent to the GDP and employs half of the agriculture labour force.

Among the investments planned for are in the leather industry to exploit abundant hides and skins and in zoning facilities to guarantee quality for meat and other livestock products targeted for exports.

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