The County Government of Makueni has signed an agreement with the Italian government to start growing castor on a pilot project from January 2023.
Makueni County Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jnr has said the project dubbed, SEMAKENYA II, A RESILIENT PATHWAY TO AGROECOLOGY’ that will be implemented by CIHEAM-Bari that will support trials on castor varieties to facilitate mass production of castor oil and also animal feeds.
CIHEAM-Bari is a centre for post-graduate training, applied scientific research and design of in loco partnership actions within the framework of international research and cooperation programmes.
The institution has privileges of extra-territoriality granted to international organizations by the Republic of Italy through the Establishment agreement signed by the Italian Government.
Mutula said that the initiative will contribute to the efforts by ENI, an Italian oil company and the Government of Kenya to promote the de-carbonization process and combat effects of climate change in Makueni.
The governor said that this will be done through a new industrial model to produce biofuels based on development of sustainable oil crops in the area.
“On 9th December 2022, we signed an agreement with the Italian Government at their Nairobi Embassy. This initiative will introduce conservative agriculture and dryland farming practices to increase productivity of agricultural systems typical of Makueni County and counter the negative impact of climate change on local livelihoods,” said Mutula while speaking at Mukuyuni Primary School in Makueni Sub County.
He disclosed that CIHEAM-Bari has also opened opportunities for scholarships for officers from the Makueni Government to go and do research and study on sustainable agriculture in dry lands and renewable energy.
At the same time, the project was targeting two co-operatives namely Kitise Farmers with membership of 350 families and will grow the crop on a 250 acres of land.
The other cooperative is Makueni County Fruit Processors Society (MCFPCS) with a membership of 3,600, with a potential to reach 18,000 farmers spread across the county.
“The whole initiative is equally planned to improve the market of agricultural products through identification of good markets and enhancement of the quality of agricultural products,” the governor said.
Meanwhile, ENI has already started production of oil and seed cake at the Agricultural Training College (ATC) at Kwa Kathoka in Makueni, where they are working with 2,500 farmers this season.
By Patrick Nyakundi