The Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries will spend Sh 50 million in the 2022/2023 Financial Year, to modernize coffee factories in three coffee growing Sub-counties in Nyeri County.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary (CS), Peter Munya, while on a tour at the Wamagana Fish Processing Plant in Tetu, Nyeri County, said that the revamp was part of the ongoing coffee sub-sector reforms, which are aimed at modernizing the coffee infrastructure and encouraging farmers to increase production.
According to Munya, only a few factories will benefit from the first phase of the renovations but the Ministry intends to scale-up the project to include all coffee factories later.
“The rehabilitation will entail building of new driers and providing new machines to factories in Tetu, Mathira and Mukurwe-ini. We are waiting for the resources to be availed so that we can rehabilitate all the coffee factories,” said Munya.
While taking stock of the achievements by his Ministry in the different agriculture sub-sectors, Munya revealed that the government had spent Sh1.4 billion on different Agriculture projects within Nyeri County for the last five years.
According to the CS, the lion’s shares of the resources have been channeled towards projects aimed at promoting food and nutrition security.
Some of the biggest beneficiaries include projects under the Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture project, where 17,000 farmers benefited from government projects worth Sh 363 million. The ministry also pumped Sh 317 million into the rehabilitation of 247 hectares under the Ndirithi-Aguuthi Irrigation Scheme in Kieni-Sub-county under the small-scale irrigation and value addition programmes.
Munya said that once complete, the project which is currently at 90 per cent completion will benefit 1,600 farmers.
Under the coffee sector, Munya further noted that 29,000 farmers were already benefiting from the E-Subsidy programme which allows farmers to enjoy a 40 per cent discount on farm input and agrichemicals.
He said that the Ministry had so far released vouchers worth Sh 30 million to cover the purchase of inputs and 302 metric tonnes of fertilizers to be used by farmers during the long rain season.
He at the same time said that government subsidized fertilizer, was already available at the National Cereal and Produce Board depots in all the counties. Munya said that the decision to sell fertilizer from NCPB depots was reached as a way of shielding farmers from hiked prices by private agro-dealers.
“The subsidized fertilizer is not being sold at local agro-vets because we do not want a situation where people buy from the government and then resell it at higher price to the farmer. We want the individual farmer to make a direct purchase from NCPB. That is why we have reduced the price by half so that you can also afford transport to the depots,” said Munya.
The Government in April slashed the cost of fertilizer by nearly half after the prices hit an all-time high of Sh 6,500 per 50-kilogram bag.
The Government also capped the purchase of the fertilizer to 20 bags per farmer, a move that would ensure more growers get access to cheap fertilizer.
Munya at the same time encouraged more youths to join the agriculture sector. He said that there were still too few young people immersing themselves in the field of Agriculture despite the government setting up programmes such as Empowering Novel Agri-Business-Led Employment for Youth (ENABLE youth) which is aimed at imparting agribusiness skills and providing interest free loans for agripreneurs.
“The young people have refused to embrace Agriculture but we are still looking for strategies to bring them on board, especially using technology and other innovative ways that are appealing to them,” said Munya.
By Wangari Mwangi and Ressy Harnet