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Relief for rice farmers as investors beckon

Over 1700 rice farmers in Busia County have a reason to smile after the county government in partnership with the Indigenous Go Africa and Indigo Global Development announced plans to fully mechanize Bunyala Rice Scheme in Budalangi Sub County.

The farmers have applauded the foreign investors for accepting to invest in the sector, a move that will change their fortunes for the better.

Addressing the press outside the county headquarters after leading a delegation of Indigenous Go Africa, the County Chief Officer for Agriculture Moses Osia said the move will help rice farmers in the county improve on their rice production, hence boosting the county’s economy.

US investors pause for a photo with rice farmers at Bunyala Irrigation Scheme. Photo by Matini Mercyline

“This agreement with the investors is to help boost rice production in our county, which will in turn improve the livelihood of our farmers who depend on rice farming as a source of income and also improve our general economy,” Osia said.

He added, “This will revolutionize irrigation and rice growing in the area. We appreciate the efforts put up by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry Busia Chapter and the County Government of Busia in wooing investors to the County.”

The ongoing works of the Lower Nzoia Irrigation Scheme, area under rice production will reach 10,000 acres from the current 3,000, which will boost rice production in the county.

KNCCI Chair, Busia Chapter Sylvanus Abungu said the collaboration which aimed at mechanizing the scheme is to increase production and achieve high yields.

He therefore urged farmers to embrace the production of three crop per year to triple the income compared to the initial one crop annually.

“Let’s embrace three crop production per year to increase our annual income, since the rice scheme has been mechanised,” he said.

Nathalie Brunet from Indigo Global Development told the farmers that a milling plant for rice farmers in the county is their top priority to enable farmers process their rice ready for sale, instead of exporting unprocessed rice to benefit other areas including neighbouring Uganda at their expense.

“Our objective is to invest in sustainable projects in the county and to link farmers to foreign markets for their horticultural produce including avocado, mangoes, macadamia and coffee,” she said.

The Managing Director Indigenous Go Africa Hillary Akhabi said they partnered with Busia County in order to attain sustainable agriculture and also ensure they get the right market for the farm produce.

“Our aim is to have sustainable agriculture and ensure that we have a market for the farm produce,” he said.

Osia also outlined some of the challenges faced by farmers among them low yields due to poor, and low-quality rice seeds and varieties, type of soils for the growth of rice and a poor marketing strategy, which he however promised will come to an end.

By Absalom Namwalo and Matini Mercyline

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