Kenya is determined to reclaim its stake in the global pyrethrum market, signaling a renewed sense of optimism among farmers as the government’s ambitious revival plan gains momentum. The once-thriving pyrethrum sector, which has faced years of decline due to mismanagement, theft, and underfunding, is now poised for resurgence with strategic interventions aimed at revitalizing production.

At the forefront of this revival effort is the 61-year-old Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) in Nakuru, which has been earmarked for a significant upgrade. Government Spokesman Dr. Isaac Mwaura announced plans to inject Sh450 million into enhancing the facility’s extraction plant, marking a crucial step towards revitalizing the sector.

Pyrethrum, once hailed as the ‘black gold’ of Kenya and a major foreign exchange earner, has seen its fortunes dwindle over the years. However, the government’s commitment to reviving the industry offers a ray of hope for thousands of small-scale growers who depend on the crop for their livelihoods.

Dr. Mwaura outlined the government’s targets, including expanding pyrethrum cultivation to cover at least 30,000 acres of land and encouraging 200,000 farmers to embrace the crop by 2027. These ambitious goals underscore the government’s determination to breathe new life into the once-flourishing industry.

Despite challenges such as low yields, inadequate seedlings, and governance issues, the government remains steadfast in its efforts to revitalize the pyrethrum sector. Initiatives such as providing free seedlings to farmers and increasing the capacity of processing plants are aimed at addressing these challenges and driving growth.

Dr. Mwaura emphasized the importance of competition in the sector, advocating for private sector involvement to eliminate monopolies and ensure fair prices for farmers. The government’s partnership with private investors and the reconstitution of the PPCK Board of Directors signal a concerted effort to instill proper governance and promote transparency in the industry.

PPCK’s Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms. Mary Ontiri, highlighted the growing demand for Kenya’s pyrethrum on the global market, citing its high quality and low chemical use as key selling points. With increased investment in value addition and processing, PPCK aims to capitalize on this demand and position Kenya as a leading supplier of pyrethrum products.

Efforts to revive the pyrethrum sector extend beyond production to address longstanding issues such as pension arrears for retired workers. Dr. Mwaura assured pensioners of PPCK that plans were underway to settle their outstanding dues, providing much-needed relief to individuals who have been waiting for over a decade.

While challenges remain, including competition from other countries and fluctuating market prices, Kenya’s pyrethrum industry is slowly but steadily regaining momentum. With continued government support, strategic partnerships, and investments in research and development, the future looks promising for pyrethrum farmers across the country.