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Kisumu, UK gov’t sign Sh30billion pact to boost agriculture

Kisumu County Government in partnership with a British based Investment Company – United Green has signed flagship agriculture and food security investment program agreement, aimed at revolutionising food production in the lake region.

The Sh30 billion sustainable agri-food project is meant to deliver Agri-fin-tech services, offer high productivity climate-smart farming and modern agro-industrial facilities for rural communities around Lake Victoria.

Governor Prof. Anyang’ Nyong’o said during the meeting that the project is geared towards revamping growth in rice and cotton production as well as dairy and fish sub-sectors.

“This project has come at the most opportune time because Kenya needs a champion organisation to provide leadership and prudent investment, so as to develop inclusive, scalable, market-based, environmentally sustainable and high productivity agri-food systems,” stated Prof. Nyong’o.

Albrecht Frischenschlager, United Green Chief Investment Officer, speaking at the signing ceremony, stated that the investment aims to enhance economic returns and positive environmental outcomes among rural farmers.

Kenyan consumers, Albrecht added, will hugely reap from the constant supply of high-quality, nutritious and safe agricultural commodities as well as branded products courtesy of the project.

“This is a transformative investment in Kenya’s agriculture sector that could be extended to other regions. We are proud and confident of the expected positive outcomes like job creation, improved crop production for the out-grower communities and enhanced livelihoods,” said Albrecht.

The stakeholders have initiated a rigorous development approach that seeks to contribute significantly to the country’s food security and reduce the overreliance on importing food commodities by approximately Sh.24 Billion annually, thus reducing Kenya’s trade deficit.

The program to be implemented by a local firm, Kisumu County 42 Lake Ventures Company over the next five years, will focus on the production of high-value crops with a focus on servicing local consumers and industry demand with consumer value addition done in local industries.

These include the production of over 100,000 tonnes annually of rice products and over 100,000 bales of cotton products to support the Kenyan textile industry. Others are edible oil such as sunflower, soybeans, cottonseed and maize by-products to support the livestock sector.

Kenya is poised to lead as a strategic player in the agricultural sector by establishing the largest and most modern integrated agri-food and services upon completion of the project.

The venture’s primary farms will integrate with 100,000 hectares of surrounding farming communities via a unique smallholder farmer scheme, aiming to increase their productivity and provide them with support for sustainable farming methods.

Subsequently, 20,000 rural households are targeted to be incorporated into the new agri-food operating system and over 2,000 people will be directly employed when the integrated enterprise will be at full capacity.

According to Mr. Alexander Milne, the UK Department of International Trade Country Director, the investment will bolster the national government’s commitment to agricultural transformation, increased productivity and output, besides inclusive growth of local agriculture and associated industries.

The UK Government has supported the project through the British High Commission Kenya, Agricultural Transformation Office (ATO) and Kenyas’ Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Cooperatives.

By Robert Ojwang’

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