Machakos County will soon market their farm produce for consumption not only in Kenya but also in international markets like the European Union, the Deputy Governor has said.
Speaking to the press Saturday, Machakos DG Francis Mwangangi while hosting the Irish Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hacket at the Governor’s office, said that the tropical fruits processing hub in Mwala would present an opportunity for farmers to market their produce internationally.
Mwangangi said that the Mwala fruit processing plant would receive support and funding from the Government of Ireland, which would give the county confidence that their efforts to reach out to international investors was bearing fruits.
The Deputy Governor pointed out that the support from Ireland would transform the livelihoods of the local residents who have been selling their small scale fruit harvest to the factory for value addition.
He added that it’s a great opportunity to foster further partnerships especially in the area of agriculture, food production and technology.
“Through our partnerships, we intend to transform Machakos from a relief receiving county capable of feeding its people and engineer trade for agricultural products,” said Mwangangi.
Mwangangi decried the challenges of the climate change that has hit Africa causing prolonged drought and depressed rainfall, which has frustrated agricultural activities and triggered a strain on investment directed to agriculture and food production in the county.
“This global phenomenon has also impacted negatively on the previous gains made on agricultural sustainability and development especially in regions where rain-fed agriculture is heavily relied on,” added Mwangangi.
He stated that the Irish government seeks to offer support to fruit farmers across the county in terms of knowledge and on-farm produce practices to create and implement innovative smart economic production systems.
Mwangangi added that Ireland also seeks to help in farming mechanisms to attain the required international standards for Machakos farmers produce to enter the European Union market.
He said that Machakos would continue to provide a conducive environment for investments in all sectors.
On her part the Ireland Minister for Land Use and Biodiversity Pippa Hacket said that she, as a farmer, understands the challenge Kenya is going through following five seasons of drought.
Hacket said her government acknowledges the challenge to produce food, keeping the citizens fed with nutritious food and that is why they are supporting several programmes and projects such as the fruit processing plant in Mwala.
She said that Ireland has been supporting Kenya in the past for humanitarian causes, research, businesses and development programmes and they are happy to partner with Machakos County to improve their livelihoods.
Also present were the Ireland Ambassador to Kenya Fionnuala Quinlan, Machakos Chief of Staff Lawrence Ngovi and CECMS Land Philip Kilonzo, among other guests.
By Anne Kangero