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Nyeri eyes for mechanised agriculture to boost food security

Nyeri hopes to utilise at least 100,000 hectares of its arable land as one way of boosting its food production both for the local consumption and external market.

Governor Mutahi Kahiga told members of the Nyeri County Assembly he intends to turn the county into a breadbasket by adopting modern farming technologies and advanced livestock husbandry practices.

The county boss who was making his maiden speech before the full house since securing a second term in office has also promised to complete construction works on 20 water reservoirs to help in supplying water to farmers for irrigation purposes.

“I have committed to mechanise agriculture by completion of 20-large-scale dams, support small-holder agriculture drip irrigation, and work with the private sector to enhance commercial agricultural production on at least 100,000 hectares,” he told the 42-member house

“I have committed to rehabilitate 30 dams and 100 water pans to increase water supply for irrigation, power generation, and increase acreage under irrigation to 20,000 hectares from the current 5,000 hectares,” he added.

And to confront the threat posed by the worsening climate patterns, the governor intends to partner with the Kenya Forest Service and other state conservation agencies in safeguarding the Aberdare and Mount Kenya forests which happen to be crucial water towers in the Central Kenya region.

The key water catchment points had over the years seen a steady decline in forest cover owing to human encroachment and wanton destruction through illegal logging leading to drying up of major water sources.

Kahiga told the lawmakers he plans to partner with KFS through the Community Forest Associations in planting over 50 million trees in all 12 county forests and parks in all major towns.

“To mitigate the effects of climate change, our focus will be to partner with Kenya Forest Services to adopt and reforest the large sections of the Aberdare Forest that suffered great destruction causing our rivers to dry up and affecting our farming activities downstream,” he said.

“Through afforestation, we will create new jobs in the carbon trade by harnessing forest cover from the current 40 per cent by planting 50 million trees, establishing community Forest Associations for all the 12 County forests,” he added.

Dairy farmers are also expected to benefit a great deal after the county government managed to procure 23 coolers and one milk pasteurizer to help enhance value addition in the sector.

In addition, the government has promised to support dairy farmers and businesses in accessing credit facilities through injecting of funds to local cooperative societies.

To date, Wakulima Dairy, Kieni Dairy, Sabeke Cooperative, Nyeri South Banana, Mukeni Poultry and Mwikaria Grains Cooperative Societies have benefited from Sh64.5 million support from the county government.

“We will encourage the formation of marketing cooperatives to stabilise market prices and economies of scale for products from small scale farmers in maize, wheat and potatoes, avocados and dairy products,’ he said.

“Nyeri county has 179 active co-operative societies spread across all sectors of our economy with a membership of over 400,000, an asset base of over 19 billion with an estimated annual turnover Sh 6 billion per year. This means that 40 per cent of our population is registered in one cooperative or another,” said Kahiga during the sitting that was also attended by Nyeri Senator Wahome Wamatinga.

Assembly Speaker Gichuhi Mwangi later adjourned the house until Tuesday next week when the lawmakers will have an opportunity to discuss the Governor’s speech.

By Samuel Maina and Millicent Njeru

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