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Citizen Weekly

Sunday 7 December 2014


After snapping out of his dreamland, Trans Nzoia governor Patrick Khaemba is now massaging his ego on a prosperous scorecard as the year 2014 comes to its sunset.
 Trans Nzoia maize farmers may soon get better prices for their maize after Khaemba’s county government rolled out plans of establishing a milling plant, courtesy of  Khaemba who recently signed an MOU between his government and the Industrial and Commercial Development Corporation in a joint venture to establish a maize milling plant in Kitale. The project that will cost over Sh600 million.
“We want to change how our farmers have been selling their maize. The envisaged milling plant will help farmers get better prices for their produce,” he said. Poor prices of maize have been attributed to abject poverty in this county with farmers selling 90kgs at Sh1,500 which is below the production cost. Khaemba said that the plans are in line with the new county initiative that purposes to add value to farm produce with expectations of fetching better prices so as to up the living standards of residents.
He said that the government’s plan to irrigate over 1 million acres of land at Galana irrigation scheme with sole purpose of increasing maize production, threatens the livelihood of many maize farmers in the county.
With that reason, the governor said the milling plant will help in shielding farmers against the expected changes in the market owing to excess maize supply.
He said that since farmers are expecting to earn Sh15 billion this year, the milling plant will help farmers earn more. Khaemba said his administration intends to make maize farmers sell at least half of their produce within the county noting that this will shield them from middlemen who have been hoodwinking them. He said the venture will create more job opportunities to the local residents as well as help spur other forms of development in the region.
Khaemba said the MOU was a culmination of the process that was ongoing by the county government and development partners. He regretted that the region has very good weather yet agricultural activities are declining and high levels of unemployment averaging 58pc against national average of 40pc. The county chief further disclosed that the level of food insecurity was high at about 62pc while poverty level was at over 50pc.
Khaemba said the county government has looked at programmes that will reverse the trend, citing soil testing and introduction of new mavuno fertiliser as some of the intervention measures.
“We have really focused on diversifying into other crops. Maize has done as well as a food crop but only gives us just one earning in a year. Where do farmers get cash flow other times of the year?” he pondered. He attributed the high poverty index in the region to overreliance on maize production and asserted that it is the reason the county government is focused on diversification.
Khaemba named challenges facing farmers as climate change, viral maize necrosis disease among others and emphasised on the need to diversify production. But the former PS maintained that the county is not moving away from maize production but rather insisted the diversification programme would ensure constant cash flow throughout the year. ICDC chairman Martin Muragu disclosed that Trans Nzoia is the first county government that the cooperation had entered into a development agreement with since inception of devolved governments.
He asserted that ICDC will partner with Trans Nzoia county government to ensure development for the benefit of the public.
“We will support in championing economic growth of Kenya to create wealth and jobs for citizens,” he pointed out. Muragu disclosed the cooperation had helped finance most of the commercial firms in the country and has proven record of steering economic growth.
At the same time in partnership with Lake Basin Authority, Trans Nzoia government will rehabilitate three dams in the region. The Sh53 million project will help in controlling flooding and help contain water for irrigation. Governor Patrick Khaemba and the authority’s chairman Onyango Oloo signed the MOU which will enhance the rehabilitation of Kapsitwet, Ng’eng’e and Marinda dams in Kwanza sub county.
There have been a lot of floods in the area during heavy rains which in the past has resulted into loss of property and crops worth millions of shillings. Khaemba said the three dams will boost food production in the area by 40pc and promote horticultural farming. He said his government and the Lake Basin Authority have also agreed to establish a modern nursery for coffee at Lunyu area to promote coffee farming which farmers are venturing into.
The dams will also be used for fish farming as the authority will also help in funding a mono sex fingerlings production. According to the MOU, Lake Basin Authority will also establish a tourism and conservation project, a talent centre, cottage industry and vocational training facilities, sports development complex which will act as high altitude training centre and conference facility.
“The talent centre will help the talented children acquire the skills which will act as a source of employment,” said Khaemba. 
Oloo said the authority will also help in the establishment of a milling plant for cereals to enhance value addition which is estimated at Sh1 billion. “We have partnered with the county to ultimately contribute to enhancing the livelihoods of local communities by promoting social economic development,” he said.
The chairman said the authority will identify mini hydro sites for the construction of the facility to boost power production to help in creation of small industries.
Also in the prospects of the county regarded as the countries granary, the Indian government will initiate irrigation projects in the county, a move expected to boost food production in the county.
During his visit to the county recently, Indian High Commissioner, Yogeshwar Varma, revealed that a team of five experts from India will be visiting the county to carry out studies and costing before the commencement of the project. “We are partnering with Trans Nzoia county in this project because we want to help in ending food shortage,” he said. He said that the major two water towers in the area, Mt Elgon and Cherangany could be used to end food problem affecting the country.
He further said that plans are underway of setting up a soil, tissue and water tasting facility at the current Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation centre in Kitale, a grant from the Indian government. He said that the facility will serve all East Africa countries.
Governor Khaemba said that the acidic nature of the soil in the area has affected maize production. He said that the facility will play a big role in ensuring that residents understands soil nature, which will guide in fertiliser application and type of crop to be planted.
“This facility is of a greater help to us as it will assist in analysing soil samples which will ensure that residents plant right crops,” he said.

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