About 400 farmers in Ahero are set to benefit from a contract farming scheme for the production of sorghum and green grams in a new crop diversification programme.
This is part of the National Irrigation Authorityplan to expand the Ahero Irrigation Scheme by 1,000 acres.
While the scheme is commonly known for large-scale rice production, farmers are now being encouraged to grow sorghum, a raw material for the East African Breweries Limited (EABL) plant in the county. Another set of farmers are expected to produce green grams for the European market.
The programme is likely to bring relief for farmers who recently incurred losses after River Nyando burst it banks and destroyed paddy rice worth Sh810 million in April.
NIR Western Kenya senior scheme manager Joel Tanui told the Nation that both sorghum and green grams will each be produced on 500 acres of land.
“In partnership with EABL and Cisqo Exporters, we will start scouting for farmers in Ahero by next week,” said Mr Tanui.
He added: “This is a new concept considering Ahero Irrigation scheme is known for rice production. As part of the food security agenda, we want to diversify and produce other types of crops”.
The authority is already constructing water canals to enable the farmers access water.
According to Mr Tanui, the two companies will provide seeds and fertiliser, they will then buy the produce once it is ready.
“Green grams have a lot of potential in this region considering there is favourable climate and soil to support its farming. In addition, there will be a ready market once the produce is mature,” he said.
With this initiative, the county will join green gram heavy weights such as Kitui and Tharaka-Nithi counties.
“We target about 400 tonnes of green grams for the export market. The export company will buy from farmers at a price of Sh80 a kilo,” said Mr Tanui.
In the next financial year, the authority plans to add another 1,000 acres for the production of soya beans.
“Oil producing companies such as Bidco have already shown interest in the production of soya beans in Ahero,” Mr Tanui said