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Brief news on farming and agribusiness in the country

Wednesday May 8 2019

Traders sell bananas in a market in Nairobi.

Traders sell bananas in a market in Nairobi. The crop's farmers in Kisii have a reason to smile following plans to open a processor in the region. PHOTO | DENNIS ONSONGO | NMG 

SATURDAY NATION TEAM
By SATURDAY NATION TEAM
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Ground-breaking fete for banana firm in Kisii County slated for May 15

Banana farmers in Kisii have a reason to smile following plans to open a processor in the region. The ground-breaking ceremony will be on May 15.

Already, the county government has received a Sh110 million grant from the European Union for the factory.

Governor James Ongwae said the firm would strengthen the banana value chain and improve the economy of the region.

Constructing the factory will take 19 months. The total cost of the project is Sh155 million, with the devolved government contributing Sh45 million.

Mr Ongwae said the plant will help eradicate the exploitation of farmers by middlemen.

Farmers at times sell their produce at throwaway prices, especially when there is a market glut.

“The need to create more wealth out of this resource informed my administration’s decision to invest in the banana processor,” Governor Ongwae said.

-Ruth Mbula

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Leading farm machinery company reduces price of back-hoe loaders

Leading construction and building equipment supplier, Ganatra Plant & Equipment Ltd, has announced a reduction in cost and asset finance deal for the purchase of new JCB back-hoe loaders.

The cost reduction of 20 per cent has been negotiated with JCB-UK, NIC Bank, Stanbic Bank and Barclays Bank.

The JCB back-hoe loader is versatile and can be used in different industries, including roads and building construction, agriculture, mining, material handling and waste management.

Ganatra Plant & Equipment Ltd MD Altaf Ganatra said: “We are excited about this initiative. Acquiring the world’s best back-hoe loader at the offer price is an opportunity that should not be missed.

“By significantly reducing the cost of the loader, we hope to increase mechanisation to boost productivity.”

He added that the offer would be attractive to Kenyan entrepreneurs “who can make high returns by leasing out the machines”.

We want to make the equipment as affordable as possible,” he said.

-Annie Njanja

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Global warming: UNDP to help women

The United Nations Development Programme and the Kenyan government are working on programmes to help women deal with effects of climate change and improve food security.

The food security situation in Kenya has deteriorated following the poor performance of the October–December short-rains. This led to below average crop performance and inadequate replenishment of rangeland resources.

So far, the number of people threatened with hunger had grown to about 1,111,500 million in March. A majority are women and children.

Women in developing countries remain vulnerable to the vagaries of climate change because they highly depend on natural resources for their livelihoods.

Last week, UNDP met various stakeholders from 17 countries in Nairobi discuss the measures to take.

The countries included Bhutan, Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica and Cote D’Ivoire.

-Faith Nyamai

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Curb importation of cheap eggs from Uganda, veterinary association says

The Kenya Veterinary Association has asked the government to stop the importation of cheap eggs.

The organisation urged the government to lower the cost of production for animal feeds and drugs.

KVA chairman Samuel Kahariri said Kenyan farmers are being pushed out of business by cheap egg imports, particularly from Uganda.

“Our farmers say the cost of producing an egg is Sh7, yet they are supposed to sell it at Sh10 to realise profits,” Dr Kahariri said in Kisumu.

He added that a Ugandan farmer produces an egg at Sh4 and can sell it for Sh7.

“We are driving the Kenyan farmer and suppliers of inputs out of the market,” Dr Kahariri said.

However, Agriculture Chief Administrative Secretary Andrew Tuimur said the Kenya cannot go against the East African Protocol.

“It is a liberal market. All we can do is ensure that the imports meet the required standards,” Dr Tuimur said.
He added that the government would ensure the cost of production reduces.

-Elizabeth Ojina

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Farmers in many parts of the country hesitant to plant despite heavy rains

Farmers are hesitant to plant as uncertainty about the rains grows.

This comes amid downpours across the country.

The Kenya Meteorological Department recently said late and poor distribution of rains would affect agriculture, leading to food insecurity.

The weatherman said the rains would start in the lake basin and the highlands west of Rift Valley in early March.

The rain would then fall in the other parts of Kenya towards the end of March.

However, subsequent updates by the Met showed that the rains would delay.

Many parts of the country have begun experiencing rain and floods, though the department says it may not be sufficient to sustain crops.

Some farmers in Makueni and Machakos are yet to plant, even as others in Busia and Kakamega say they planted maize weeks ago.

“I used Sh22,000 to prepare my farm, buy seeds and plant. I hope the rains will be consistent,” Mr Joshua Wekesa from Bungoma said.

-Faith Nyamai

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New consumer safety drive launched

Compelled by the rising cases of food contamination and food-borne diseases, a consumer-driven campaign to advance safety has been launched.

The Food Safety Systems for Value Chain Competitiveness drive is taking place in Nyandarua, Nakuru, Kiambu, Kirinyaga, Embu, Meru, Makueni, Machakos, Kilifi, Migori, Kisii, Kakamega and Bungoma counties.

The campaign targets aquaculture, horticulture and the dairy value chain.

It employs the agricultural technical vocational education and training approach.

The drive is effected through the five-year, AgriFI Programme, which runs under the Micro Enterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT). It is funded by the EU through the Danish embassy.

During the launch of the campaign, MESPT chief executive Charles Nyawade said his organisation intends to achieve a fully fledged consumer-driven safety system.

-Brian Okinda