Defence Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa led a delegation from the County Government of Migori and the European Union to the official opening of the Sh117 million Getonganya Sweet Potato Processing Factory in Kuria West, Migori County.
The processing plant becomes the first of its kind to be opened in the region, upon its completion, funded by the Ministry of Devolution and the European Union grant.
The multi-million plant is expected to process over 100 tons of sweet potatoes daily, thus allowing farmers to expand production in the area.
The county provided Sh10 million and ground implementation logistics, while the EU granted Sh107 million for the construction of factory structures, purchase of processing machines and capacity building of sweet potato value chain stakeholders.
During the commissioning, Wamalwa said that the plant is one of the IDEA programs among other 15 projects across the country that the devolution ministry is championing towards the realization of the Big Four Agenda component of food security and manufacturing.
He added that through a partnership with local leadership, especially the county governments, the government is striving towards value addition in potential areas to create employment and also enhance food security.
“Today I am happy to be here for this major project. We have been working together with both county and national government to stir local economic development and see how to build on the president’s big four agenda pillars on food security and manufacturing,” said the CS.
Migori is listed as the second-largest producer of Orange-fleshed sweet-potato (OFSP) with 11,312 hectares under cultivation, following Homa Bay County, the leading producer with an area of 24,268 hectares, under the production of the OFSP.
Kuria region produces close to 0.3 million tons of sweet potatoes per year, with an estimated 6, 500 farmers involved in the production. Therefore, the construction and opening of the sweet potato processing plant is seen as a boost to potato farmers from Kuria, who have had no sustained market for the product.
Over the years, sweet potato production in Migori has been largely unattractive and on a small scale due to a lack of market. Brokers had also taken advantage of the situation to exploit the farmers.
Migori Governor Zachary Obado noted that the opening of the plant will not only have an economic impact on the people of Migori, but also the entire country.
Obado urged local farmers to embrace sweet potato planting in large numbers to benefit from the ready market that is now within the reach.
“We are ready to go and even our farmers are well prepared for this project after long waiting. We encourage them to plant potatoes in large numbers because this is something that has huge potential for their lives,” stated the governor.
With the completion of the factory, the governor said that the county has met its objective of contributing to the socio-economic development of the Migori community by enhancing value addition through sweet potato processing for improved income and employment creation.
“With this factory becoming operational, our people will be able to enjoy the sweet and medicinal bread made from their crop. That notwithstanding, jobs, the good prices from their potato and the sumptuous business environment will be created,” added Obado.
The county government has also set aside 400acres at the lower Kuja meant for sweet potato seeds.
By Polycarp Ochieng