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North Rift farmers told to embrace diversification for economic growth

Trade, Industrialisation and Enterprise Development Cabinet Secretary Betty Maina has challenged farmers from the North Rift region to embrace diversification for economic growth and sustainability.
Farmers in the for counties of Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Elgeyo-Marakwet and Nandi counties have always relied on maize as the economic mainstay and it is high time they diversified to other high yielding crops to enhance incomes.
Speaking Monday while on a tour of small and medium sized industries in Uasin Gishu County, Ms Maina said apart from embracing passion fruit and Avocado farming, residents in the region should also venture into silkworm farming for silk production that she said is in high demand.
The CS said following plans to set up the African Economic Zone( AEZ )industrial park in Uasin Gishu farmers need to plant Mulberry trees that form the basic food material for silkworms which produce silk that she added is a key raw material for the most expensive clothes internationally.
“A foreign investor is planning to set up a silk processing factory at AEZ that will provide a ready market for the farmers,” said the CS adding that the factory being set up from Guangdong, China is the largest producer of silk in the world.
The investor has already initiated a pilot project for silk farming, and the Mulberry tree seedlings are readily available for farmers wishing to venture into silkworm production.
During the tour, the CS launched an Agrohub park at Mois Bridge that is set to enhance the food value chain in Kenya’s breadbasket by reducing post-harvest losses incurred by farmers for lack of market and proper storage.
The Agrohub fronted by the family of former Eldoret North MP the late Reuben Chesire is also aimed at facilitating agro-industrial businesses and offer tailor-made solutions to the business community.
The CS lauded the investor saying Kenya should not only rely on foreign investors to develop its industries, “our local investors venturing into manufacturing and industry that is anchored on the country’s Vision 2030 and the Presidents Big Four agenda, should be celebrated.”
“Private investors are not just foreigners, our own local private investors putting their money in such enterprises are encouraged and the government will continue to support them by providing a conducive environment for development,” she said.
She further said time has come to diversify the relocation of industries to the counties to spur economic growth.
“For a long time, all industries have been located around Nairobi, Thika, Mombasa, Nakuru, and partly Kisumu, now we want to see greater investment in industries in the counties,” she stressed.
The CS also said the government was striving to create a local and international market for Kenyan goods, products, and services.
“We are negotiating a free trade agreement with the United States with the intention of expanding our market, we are also negotiating a trade agreement with the United Kingdom to ensure that beginning next year we continue to access their market as it exits the European Union (EU).
The CS also toured Squaredeal uniforms and garment making factory and Buffalo millers.
By Kiptanui Cherono

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