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Otuoma unveils subsidised tractor services

Busia Governor Dr. Paul Nyongesa Otuoma has unveiled subsidised tractor services to help Busia residents plough their farms ahead of the long rainy planting season in his effort to boost food security across the county.

Otuma targets to plough over 20,000 acres for the already registered 150,000 farmers across 35 wards at a subsidised fee of Sh2500 payable through an official county Pay Bill account.

Speaking to the press at Malaba Stadium after attending the volleyball tournament finals, the governor said it was sickening to see Busia residents relying on the importation of cereals from Uganda, yet they have the same climatic conditions and enough resources to produce basketfuls for the county.

“The unveiling of new tractors at Butula Youth Polytechnic in Butula Constituency was destined to promote agriculture and thereby help to tackle the food insecurity question in our county,” Governor Otuoma said.

“With proper mechanised tilling, agricultural extension services, and subsidised farm inputs, the efforts to monetize rural communities through Ward-Based Economic Revitalization programme will be achieved. The target is to plough 20,000 acres for over 150,000 farmers, achieving a production of 20–25 bags of maize per acre,” he added.

Agriculture being the leading employer in Busia County, with about 42 per cent of its residents depending on it for survival and as a tool for economic empowerment, this timely intervention is likely to change the high poverty index for Busia people.

“About 50 per cent of Busia County residents depend on farming, and therefore we have to be food secure through the revitalization of agriculture. Kenya spends over Sh500 billion on importing food. Embracing this project will not only boost Busia County but also the national goals of food security,” he stated.

The governor also said that through this mechanisation, the County’s Industrial Park at Nasewa, which was being developed, would have farmers sell their produce locally by producing for the industrial park, hence providing a ready market for their produce locally and improving the economy of the county as well.

A spot-check by KNA across the county noted that planting season has commenced, with farmers now calling on the government to intervene on seed prices, which have doubled from Sh530 to Sh1,000 and more, pushing them to plant uncertified seed smuggled from Uganda. 

“I want to thank the government for subsidised fertiliser and the intervention of Governor Otuoma on ploughing tractors. The only challenge now is that the price of seeds on the market is expensive for farmers. A packet going at Sh1,000 here at Malaba is to the extreme,” said Pamela Etiang.

Residents are now urging the President to procure affordable seeds to cushion farmers from brokers who are taking advantage of the planting season to fleece farmers.

The Deputy County Commissioner of Butula Sub County, Pamela Otieno, on behalf of the County Commissioner, urged the farmers to wholeheartedly embrace farming through mechanised agriculture as change is inevitable and also promised to ensure the tractors’ safety.

The Chief Officer for Agriculture, Timothy Odende, urged farmers to register in their respective wards through their ward agricultural officers and form groups of a maximum of 10 people for ploughing to take place at once in one day.

“Some of the farmers using the tractors will be distributed with free seeds through the help of the Governor in partnership with agricultural partners like YARA Millers. Farmers are encouraged to join cooperatives to access farm inputs,” he said.

By Absalom Namwalo

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