Members of the Taita Taveta Banana (TATABA) Cooperative Society have called upon the County Government to prioritize partnership with the national government through the Taita Taveta University, Ngerenyi Campus in the local production of cultured banana seedlings.
Speaking during a meeting between a section of the cooperative’s leadership and Governor Andrew Mwadime, TATABA chairperson, Costa Malai, decried the hefty transport expenses the farmers incur sourcing the cultured seedlings from Kenyatta University.
“Our members and farmers are bearing a heavy burden of transport cost of the cultured banana seedlings sourced from Kenyatta University,” said Malai.
In his arguments for local production of the seedlings, Malai said the move will not only ease the financial burden on farmers but will also increase green farming and cement the position of Taita Taveta County as a leading banana producer in the country as well as create job opportunities for the locals.
“If we can produce the cultured seedlings at Ngerenyi Campus, we’ll not only reduce the cost of seedlings but also take the county to its rightful place as a leading banana producer in Kenya and at the same time create jobs for residents,” said Malai.
In his response to the requests, Governor Mwadime assured the members that his administration is focused on creating a thriving environment for agricultural production and bananas were an area a lot of positive engagement is already underway.
The governor said the county is actively engaged and working with many partners to ensure the production and distribution of quality seedlings, expanding markets and value-addition chains, and has already tabled a supplementary budget for the completion of the stalled banana processing plant in Taveta.
“We’re working with partners to guarantee the production and distribution of quality seeds, expanding markets, bolstering our value-addition chains, and have already tabled a supplementary budget for the completion of the stalled banana processing plant in Taveta,” disclosed Mwadime.
In a 2021 survey by Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO), Taita Taveta was ranked second after Meru County in the production of bananas in 2020 and recent engagements by farmers and the county government are poised to take the production even higher.
In a week-long string of activities that will culminate into a banana field day under the banner of “Integrating Greening in Agriculture Value Chains” on 24th, November 2022 at Maridadi Farm in Taveta, stakeholders drawn from individual farmers, TATABA, the county, and national governments and international partners will be drumming up support for the sub-sector and its key role in turning around the economy of Taita Taveta.
Welcoming a delegation of stakeholders in the banana value chain led by the Danida Market Development Partnership (DMDP) and Micro Enterprises Support Programme (MESP), Acting County Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Irrigation Executive Committee Member, Grantone Mwandawiro, reiterated the county administration’s unwavering support to the banana sub-sector through combating financial, market, value-addition, and climate challenges.
“As a county, we remain steadfast in our support for the banana sub-sector in areas of financial support, creating new and expanding markets, improving value-addition chains, and combating natural disasters like floods and climate change,” said Mwandawiro.
By Arnold Linga Masila