The formation of Maize Value Chain Platform Network in Laikipia County, has given local maize farmers relief of low earning from their produce and post-harvest losses.
The Value Chain Development Platform was started in year 2015, through assistance of the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) which is now unit in the County ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries
The Laikipia County Value Chain network started with 30 farmers groups drawn from various wards in the area but as of today only 13 groups with a membership of 967 members are existing.
Speaking on Friday in Nyahururu town, during a meeting for the County Value Chain platform, the Laikipia County ASDSP Coordinator, James Kariithi said the network has improved the activities that concerns maize production in Laikipia County and especially in Laikipia West Constituency where farmers have embraced the platform.
He said the programme’s objective is to increase equitable incomes and food security in Laikipia County and the country at large.
Kariithi noted that usage of low quality inputs is very prevalent amongst farmers in Laikipia County and this is evident by low harvests.
Speaking during the meeting, Waweru Kanja, the Chairman Laikipia County Value Chain network Platform said the groups which fell off the programme had erroneously thought they would get hard cash from the government and Non-Governmental Organization (NGOs).
“In the 13 existing maize value Chain groups, 397 members are women and 570 are men and five warehouses for harvest storage” he noted.
He said the County Value Chain entity has been linked by ASDSP with partners like Kenya Commercial Bank (KCB) Mob cash, Equity Bank agro business department, Agro solution, Food for Agriculture (FAO), Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) among others.
“The Value chain has helped the group members earn good income from their farm sweats, and currently a 90 kilogram bag of maize is selling at Sh. 3,200 from Sh. 800 a few months ago” Kanja added.
He observed after the crop is harvested, farmers deliver it at the organization’s stores and it is sold when prices go up adding this has kept away middle men who con farmers so much of their earnings.
Kanja noted the problem of post-harvest losses and market access which is a great problem for maize farmers in Laikipia is no longer experienced among farmers who are members of the Value Chain development.
Some farmers said that before the formation of the Value chain umbrella, they were harvesting between 20 to 30 bags of maize per acre but now they get between 25 and 35 bags.
Elections were held at the end of the meeting, with Kanja retaining the Chairmanship seat.
By Margaret Kirera