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MP accuses BAT of exploiting farmers

02 February 2016, 10:20 Ben Wafula

Bungoma - Bumula MP, Boniface Otsiula wants two tobacco firms, Mastermind Kenya and British American Tobacco to leave his constituency for exploiting farmers.

Speaking in Bumula market, the legislator claimed that the two companies have not been paying farmers or buying their produce.

“Farmers' lives have become unbearable in parts of Napara, Netima, Malakisi, Sango, Musakasa and Miluki owing to the fact that both Mastermind and BAT have not paid them for the last eight months and they cannot feed or educate their children. Life is hard for these people,” said Otsiula.

He has threatened to lead farmers in a huge demonstration to shut down the company offices in Malakisi if they do not pay farmers on time.

Otsiula noted that he had given them a seven day notice to pay farmers or close shop.

“If they fail to heed to my advice, I will lead farmers in a demonstration and evict the company officials then lock their doors. They are a liability to us," he said.

The MP noted that it’s the obligation of the two firms to make sure that they pay farmers for what they have delivered and continue buying the ready tobacco.

“Majority of the households in this region depend on tobacco as a cash crop yet the two firms are exploiting them. Let them tell the farmers the truth if they are folding up or not so that farmers can diversify and engage in other farming practices,” said Otsiula.

He said that tobacco farmers are now desperate and have turned out to be beggars saying they should not be subjected to more suffering and punishment as the project was meant to uplift their lives.

“Am calling on farmers to convert their farms to something profitable instead of carrying on with tobacco farming which has no returns. Majority of the produce is getting spoilt in the farms,” he said.

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