Brief news on farming and agribusiness in the country

Friday February 21 2020
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In this past photo, Mzee Francis Kiplagat in his mango farm in Kerio Valley where he grows six varieties of mangoes and uses pheromone traps to curb fruit flies in his crops. Players in the Mango value chain have embarked on an aggressive campaign dubbed “Komesha: Zuia fruit flies ufaidike” which entails establishment of fruit fly free zones in Kitui and Makueni counties, and eventually across the country to rescue the fruit from the ravenous pest. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP


Campaign to curb deadly mango fruit fly unveiled

Players in the Mango value chain have embarked on an aggressive campaign to rescue the fruit from ravenous fruit flies.

Dubbed “Komesha: Zuia fruit flies ufaidike” entails the establishment of fruit fly free zones in Kitui and Makueni counties, and eventually across the country.

The initiative comes in the backdrop of the realisation that citrus, mangoes and watermelons farmers lose more than 50 per cent of their potential income to the flies.

The loss is pronounced in mangoes which are the second most common fruit produced in Kenya, after bananas.

Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (Kephis) banned the export of mangoes to the lucrative European Union market in 2014 following the infestation of fruit flies.


The commercial and operations director at Keitt Exporters Limited, Dipesh Devraj, told Seeds of Gold that the horticulture company which exports 60 tonnes of mangoes daily to the Middle East during the mango season is among those risking running out business.

“Middle East countries are a lucrative market for mangoes. However, we are rapidly losing it to Egypt. We used to sell continuously for six months. This has been reduced to two months following glut caused by produce from Egypt. This is why we must do what it takes to enter the EU market once again”.

Other stakeholders in the campaign to eliminate fruit flies include USAID Kenya Crops and Dairy Market Systems, United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, TechnoServe, Rockefeller Foundation, Ministry of Agriculture, Makueni County government, researchers, traders and fruit farmers.

The partners in the campaign unveiled a raft of measures to fight the notorious pest, which include maintaining general orchard hygiene and the deployment of fruit fly traps and other integrated pest management methods.

The actors will work with mango co-operatives societies to promote the adoption of integrated pest management best practices among farmers.

-Pius Maundu


Firm using technology to power agribusiness

Cellulant Corporation is leveraging on technology to eliminate inefficiencies and wastage in the agriculture value chain across Africa.

The company’s payment and marketplace solutions dubbed Tingg and Agrikore, built on blockchain technology, are being used in 120 African countries, said Cellulant’s co-CEO Ken Njoroge.

Speaking during the inaugural partners summit in Lagos Nigeria on Thursday, Njoroge in his address titled ‘Payments laying down the foundation for connecting Africa’ said the continent has a comparative advantage in agriculture but needs efficiency in its value chain.

“Efficiency will ensure that crops don’t rot on farms, trucks operate regularly, there are no youth unemployed in rural areas, and no factory produces below capacity,” he said.

Cellulant’s co-CEO Bolaji Akinboro said their payment platform allows farmers, aggregators, and suppliers, to see how money flows in the system. “It is for those who want to be part of an ecosystem that is profitable and which provides jobs.”

-Brian Okinda


Egerton students head to Israel for agro-lessons

Israel’s deputy envoy Eyal David has urged Egerton University students who will be selected to study agri-entrepreneurship in the country to ensure Kenya’s Big Four Agenda on food security succeeds.

The ambassador told the 100 students who will spend 11 months learning innovative technologies in Israel to help Kenyan farmers earn from the soil.

“Israel has thousands of innovations such as drip irrigation, which you could replicate here and boost food security and at the same time make money through value addition,” said Eyal on Thursday when he met the students at the Njoro campus.

He said Israel was offering the world innovative solutions to eliminate hunger and urged the students to use the knowledge they will gain to turn Kenya into a nation that would feed itself and have surplus to export.

He said Israelis working in the flower industry in Naivasha were helping the local companies penetrate the competitive export market.

“We will continue to encourage strong Kenya-Israel collaboration to make it easy for local fresh produce such as avocados to enter Israel and other international markets,” said Eyal.

Prof Nancy Mungai, the programme coordinator of Transforming African Agricultural Universities, said the intention of the exchange programme is to turn Kenya into a food basket and create job opportunities for young people.

-Francis Mureithi


PS: Kenya working on exporting honey to European Union

Kenya will Soon be listed as an exporter of honey to the European Union (EU), a government official has said.

Livestock PS Harry Kimutai said the government is working towards the goal, which includes coming up with a residue monitoring plan that is anticipated to be completed by June.

The PS was speaking in Nakuru this week during a beekeepers stakeholders’ workshop, which brought together farmers, processors, the academia and policymakers.

“The national government is keen on supporting counties which are promoting the beekeeping sector, and Nakuru is emerging top among them,” said Kimutai.

He added that the government is also working on multiplication of bee colonies as a way of boosting production along the value chain.

Nakuru Agriculture executive, Dr Immaculate Maina, called for partnership between the private sector, national and county governments in streamlining beekeeping.

She said Nakuru had an estimated 45,000 beehives, of which 26,000 are indigenous, 12,000 are top bar while 4,000 are langstroth.

“This means the county has six hives per kilometre square,” said Dr Maina, adding that there is an opportunity for the sector’s growth.

Apiculture Platform of Kenya (APK) chairman Stephen Kagio urged beekeepers to work in groups so that they can maximise benefits from their ventures.

“This way, producers will evict middlemen from the value chain, who have been exploiting them. Besides, by working in groups, the farmers will be able to lobby for good prices as the country is gearing up to exploit the lucrative EU market,” he said.

-Rachel Kibui


New fish plant to benefit some 5,000 farmers

About 5,000 fish farmers in western Kenya engaging in pond and cage aquaculture are expected to benefit from a fish processing plant in Kisumu.

The processing plant, set up by Rio Fish Limited, will serve farmers from Kisumu, Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay, Vihiga and Kakamega counties.

It will offer a ready market for farmers, thus boosting livelihoods for hundreds of producers and their families.

According to the Kenya Marine and Fisheries Research Institute, there are 3,696 fish cages across the country, but mainly in Lake Victoria.

Rio Fish Ltd chief executive Dave Okech said the processing plant will serve as a marketplace for only locally produced fish.

“It will be an aggregation point for local farmers. We intend to have a marketplace exclusively for locally farmed fish,” said Okech.

He added that increased demand for local fish and desire to promote farmers was the reason the firm set up the processing plant.

The plant, which sits on 0.75 acres in Buoye, Kisumu, has the capacity to process 15,000 tonnes of fish daily.

Already, the fish firm has installed a cold room, ice machine processing area and an office. Okech said the structure will open shop by June.

“Rio Fish Ltd is a social enterprise providing sustainable livelihoods and increasing food security by strengthening market systems around aquaculture in Lake Victoria,” he said.

-Elizabeth Ojina


Mango processing plant opened

Mango farmers in Elgeyo-Marakwet County have a reason to smile after a Sh13 million processing plant built through a partnership between the devolved unit and the Japanese government opened its doors.

The project that is also supported by the AIC Cheptebo Rural Development Centre will process and dry over 400 mangoes in a single day, giving farmers time to seek local and international markets for their produce.

“This is a game-changer in this region since most farmers have had the challenges of middlemen and post-harvest losses,” noted AIC Cheptebo Rural Development Centre director Joel Kimaiyo.

He disclosed that they had partnered with a Nairobi-based company, Kenya Fruit Solutions Limited, which will be buying their value-added produce.

“The mangoes are peeled then dried for eight to nine hours before they are packaged for the market. There is a ready market for the produce, which prefers the apple variety,” added Kimaiyo.

The region produces about 25,000 tonnes of fruits every year and the establishment of the processing plant is expected to encourage more farmers to increase acreage under the fruit.

Elgeyo-Marakwet governor Alex Tolgos applauded the completion of the project, emphasising that the factory will be a benchmark to all potential business people both in private and public sectors in the region.


Kenya asked to embrace agriculture data-sharing

Kenya has been urged to create a system that will encourage the sharing of all agricultural data to boost crop production. Experts noted that access to accurate data would help farmers benefit from higher yields through better pest control.

They spoke during the launch of a free online information resource dubbed BioProtection Portal by the Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) in Nairobi.

Dr Dennis Rangi, CABI’s director-general for development, said agriculture data should be readily available. Citing the current challenges the country is facing to control the locust menace, Dr Rangi said Kenya needs fast response to such unexpected situations, where data analytics plays a crucial role.

“We are experiencing a revolution where some of the longest standing and most potent issues can be solved by utilising the boundless pool of knowledge at our disposal,” he said, highlighting coronavirus as another challenge the portal will provide data about.

The online resource was launched in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Co-operatives and the government. Prof Hamadi Boga, principal secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock and Fisheries, said the portal offers much-needed information to agriculture stakeholders.

-Faustine Ngila