The Lamu West MP, Stanley Muthama has urged the national government to facilitate the revival of Bixa farming in Lamu, citing immense potential for job creation.
Bixa Orellana is one of two cash crops including cotton whose fortunes have slumped in Lamu despite the favourable weather conditions for the cash crop to grow as well as demand for it.
Bixa is used for making food color and is in high demand among food color processing factories.
The legislator, who spoke in Mpeketoni on Friday during the distribution of cashew nut and coconut seedlings worth Sh.3.5 million by the Agriculture Cabinet Secretary, Mwangi Kiunjuri urged the national and county governments to facilitate subsistence farmers grow other cash crops favourable to the environment.
“We have a situation where, most farmers are struggling despite there being a history of Bixa doing very well in Lamu due to its drought resistant and pest resistant nature,” Muthama stated.
The Lamu Women Representative, Ruweida Obo echoed the CS’s sentiments and commended the national government for stepping up efforts to improve agriculture across the country.
“We would like other industries such as cotton to be revived in Lamu, as it would create more jobs for youths and increase the county revenue as well,” the Women Rep said.
The Nominated Member of County Assembly, Jane Kariuki expressed concern that the slump in growing Bixa, could also be over most youth’s ignorance about the crop’s farming.
She said sensitisation of cash crop farmers, coupled by efficient agricultural extension services would improve farming in the region.
There are two Bixa farming seasons in a year at the Coast.
A first-time grower harvests 2 kilogrammes of seed a year, but by three year old, the trees produce 8 to 15kilogrammes a year.
An acre has roughly 300 trees and if each tree produces eight kilogrammes of Bixa in a year, the farmer earns Sh.84, 000 selling at the current market price of Sh.35 a kilogramme with increased earnings, if each tree yields 15kg.
By Hawa Njenga/Amenya Ochieng