The company which has been running without a substantive managing director and board of directors since 2008, a factor blamed for rampant corruption in the firm, currently has debts totaling Sh2.5 billion ($25 million).
Joseph Waweru, PPCK managing director is now calling the government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, to allocate it cash for operations, saying the amount will help it recover and start repaying the debt in the next two years.
“My petition to the government is to give us Sh500 million for operations. At the moment the company does not have enough seeds and planting material for production. However, in the coming year, we want to focus more on serious seed production. Currently we are working on nurseries in Molo, Ngongangeri, Limuru and Kabichbich in West Pokot,” said Waweru.
On top of the company’s financial woes is lack of enough planting materials even as calls to farmers to resume production of the cash crop start bearing fruit.
Once considered the golden goose of Kenya’s economy generating billions of shillings in foreign revenue, Pyrethrum farming is now a pale shadow of its good old days having been sucked dry by corrupt government officials.
Ministry of Agriculture statistics shows that the number of pyrethrum farmers growing the crop has nose-dived to between 15,000 and 20,000 in 18 counties.
The sector and the company are now bedevilled with corruption scandals, non-payment of workers, illegal leasing of company assets and suspect tenders.
The most recent being an accusation that the immediate former managing director Paul Lolwerkoi and other senior company officials flouted procurement laws contrary to the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Act, 2003. They were arrested after a series of investigations and formal complaints from workers.
Kenya's pyrethrum farming goose may not be cooked yet though. Last year during a tour of the North Rift US Ambassador to Kenya Kyle McCarter said investors from his country are already in Kenya scouting to establish pyrethrum processing plants.