Bomet farmers are set to reap more following renewed focus by their County Government in boosting agriculture through subsidy programme, value addition, marketing and passing of relevant legislative framework.
Terming Bomet as one of the bread baskets in Kenya, Governor Prof Hillary Barchok said agriculture was a strong pillar Kenya leveraged upon to solve the biting food shortage and create wealth for the farmers.
Speaking in his recent address to the County Assembly of Bomet, Prof Barchok said local farmers have for long ran agriculture on subsistence basis saying there was need to relook into local crops in a bid to add value.
The Governor said 6 000 farmers in Bomet East and Chepalungu sub counties specialized in growing sweet potatoes on a total of 2 300 hectares saying most of the production ended up in local markets at very low prices.
The Governor said Lelaitich sweet potatoes processing plant, capable of processing 5 000 kilogrammes of sweet potato tubers per day, has already been completed and set for commissioning late October.
To boost returns from the dairy sector, Chebunyo milk processing plant, located in Chepalungu Sub County and funded by the County Government and the World Bank, is set for commissioning.
Barchok said this followed County Dairy Policy that aimed at breaking monopoly in the milk sector by providing alternative outlets and also rid the local farmers of exploitation by unscrupulous middle men.
On subsidy programmes, the County Boss said his administration, in collaboration with the Nyayo Tea Zones, had issued 50 000 tea seedlings while deliberate efforts have been made towards improving production as well as minimization of post-harvest losses.
Under the programme, he said 63, 000 tissue culture bananas, grafted mangoes and Hass avocado seedlings have been distributed to local farmers in the last two years.
While urging farmers to go for certified seeds only, Barchok said more extension officers have been employed and deployed to the sub-ward level to offer technical services on management of animal and crop pests and diseases among other farm practices.
At the same time, the Governor urged farmers to form cooperatives to improve on marketing, access to funding and encourage saving culture.
He said the executive had already drafted a policy document that sought to regulate the cooperatives adding that the County Enterprise Development Fund has been established to enable farmers’ access affordable credit.
By Kipngeno Korir