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Legislators urge National and County governments to facilitate revival of Bixa and cotton farming

The  Lamu  West  MP, Stanley  Muthama has urged the national government to facilitate the revival of Bixa farming in Lamu, citing immense potential for job creation.

Bixa  Orellana is one of two cash crops including cotton whose fortunes have slumped in Lamu despite the favourable  weather conditions for the cash crop to grow as well as demand for it.

Bixa  is used for making food color and is in high demand among food color processing factories.

The  legislator, who spoke in Mpeketoni  on Friday during the distribution of cashew nut and coconut seedlings worth Sh.3.5 million by the Agriculture  Cabinet  Secretary,  Mwangi Kiunjuri  urged the national and county governments to  facilitate subsistence farmers grow other cash crops favourable to the environment.

“We have a situation where, most farmers are struggling despite there being a history of Bixa doing very well in Lamu due  to its drought resistant and pest resistant nature,” Muthama stated.

The  Lamu  Women  Representative, Ruweida  Obo echoed the CS’s sentiments and commended the national government for stepping up  efforts to improve agriculture across the country.

“We  would like other industries such as cotton to be revived in Lamu, as it would create more jobs for youths and increase  the county revenue as well,” the Women Rep said.

The  Nominated Member of County Assembly, Jane Kariuki expressed concern that the slump in growing Bixa, could also  be over  most youth’s ignorance about the crop’s farming.

She  said  sensitisation of cash crop farmers, coupled by efficient agricultural extension services would improve farming  in  the region.

There  are  two Bixa farming seasons in a year at the Coast.

A  first-time grower harvests 2 kilogrammes of seed a year, but by three year old, the trees produce 8 to 15kilogrammes a year.

An  acre has roughly 300 trees and if each tree produces eight kilogrammes of Bixa in a year, the farmer earns Sh.84, 000 selling at the current market price of Sh.35 a kilogramme with increased earnings, if each tree yields 15kg.

By  Hawa Njenga/Amenya Ochieng

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