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Farmers trained on export market opportunities

Farmers in Kirinyaga County could soon start exporting their produce if plans by the County government to train them on value addition succeed.

The hundreds of farmers from the area who undertake tea, coffee, livestock and horticultural production have been getting a raw deal from brokers who offer meager payments for their goods especially during peak seasons.

A coffee roasting machine which the county government has procured for value addition to some of the farmers in the county. Photo by Irungu Mwangi

Speaking in Kerugoya today, Kirinyaga Central Agribusiness Development Officer Francis Wanyoike said there is need for farmers to be trained on the huge benefits they stand to gain from their efforts once they devise means of processing their goods on-site before marketing.

Wanyoike added that many farmers have failed since they have never viewed agriculture as a lucrative industry due to the low returns they get from their crops.

He said the government has started an ambitious programme of training farmers on some elementary forms of value addition techniques, which he said, incorporate such tasks like cleaning, sorting, and grading of produce before it is marketed.

“Farmers have never realised that a simple procedure like cleaning their products once from the farm can easily woo buyers,” Wanyoike said.

He said farmers also need to know that they stand to reap maximum benefits from their produce if the produce is marketed after being processed unlike while raw.

Wanyoike said the Ministry has already encouraged farmers to form marketing groups in the area to help them have a bargaining edge when selling their products such as milk, tea, coffee, and French beans.

This, he said can only be achieved by giving farmers market information on emerging trends.

However, Wanyoike pointed out that they have already assisted farmers in the area to start a marketing unit registered as Horticultural Producers and Marketing Association of Kenya (HPMAK) to directly link them with global buyers.

“We are currently consulting with Horticultural Crops Development Authority (HCDA) on a framework that will help HPMAK directly export its fresh produce in line with both Euro-Gap and Global-Gap standards.

This will help us benchmark with other international marketers and also help farmers get value for their money,” he said.

By Irungu Mwangi

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