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Kirinyaga tomato farmers to benefit from seedlings propagation centre

Tomato farmers in Kirinyaga County are set to benefit from an upcoming automated seedlings propagation unit at Kangai area, Mwea West Sub County.

The modern seedlings propagation center, being constructed by the county government is expected to be completed by the end of this financial year.

Upon completion, the project will effectively address the longstanding challenges that the local farmers have been facing when it comes to sourcing of high quality and affordable seedlings.

Kirinyaga is one of the leading producer of horticultural goods in the country. It is also the leading producer of tomato, with an annual production of about 116,431 tons, which has been steadily rising from the 46,594 tons produced in 2017.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility therefore signals a major boost in agricultural productivity in the region.

Area Governor Anne Waiguru said being a rural county, they have embraced Wezesha Kirinyaga Programme, a simplified version of the Kenya Kwanza government Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) to champion diversified agricultural activities in the region.

This, she said, would in effect empower small-scale farmers to increase their production and earn more from agriculture, thus bettering their living standards.

The governor said the proposed seedling propagation centre would provide farmers with high yielding and disease tolerant tomato seedlings so as to increase production and lower cost of farming.

Waiguru said the centre is part of her elaborate plan to position local farmers as the major beneficiaries of the upcoming Sagana Agro-Industrial Park, where farm produce aggregation centres and processing factories were being put up.

“The availability of the facilities will enable farmers reap more from value addition and also save them from produce post-harvest losses. By and by, these interventions are aimed at improving the living standards of the county farmers,” she said.

On his part, the County Executive for Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary and Fisheries Dr. John Gachara said that the flagship project would contribute to increased tomato production in the area, as well as other horticultural crops, whose seedlings would also be propagated at the centre.

“The price of seedlings has been on the rise, growing from Sh9 to Sh15 in the recent past. However, with the establishment of this centre, farmers will have access to quality seedlings at a subsidized price to enable them maximize on their profits,” said Dr. Gachara.

He said that county government has been very deliberate in its efforts to support farmers increase productivity, thereby enabling them to earn better incomes and improve on their standards of living.

In the meantime, tomato farmers are looking forward to the completion of the seedling propagation centre, whose close proximity would certainly guarantee them quality and genuine seedlings.

“We used to buy seedlings from distant locations, thus incurring transportation expenses. Now, with the expected reduced prices and convenience, we can allocate the surplus funds to purchase more seedlings and other essential farm inputs.” said Wilson Muriuki, a local farmer.

His sentiments were echoed by Karani Gitari, who noted that the construction of the propagation centre by the county government would be a game-changer in terms of cost efficiency.

“We will save a lot of money previously spent on transportation to acquire seedlings. With assured quality and subsidized prices, we can enhance our profitability,” he said.

Natalia Muriuki, another tomato farmer in Kangai, said that it was becoming increasingly difficult for farmers to access quality seedlings due to high transport costs, occasioned by the ever rising fuel prices.

“Having this nearby propagation center will mitigate all these costs, hence ensuring affordability and accessibility of seedlings for farmers like me,” she said.

By Mutai Kipngetich

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