Kirinyaga Releases Sh 42.54M For Smallholder Farmers’ Group

Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru Thursday issued a check worth Sh42.54 million to farmer groups engaged in various agricultural value chain projects. The money will be shared among the 204 groups to enable them to increase production and food security and reduce poverty. While issuing the checks, Waiguru said the funding under the Wezesha Kirinyaga programme will support farmers engaged in agriculture value chains, among them dairy, avocado, tomato, chicks, beekeeping, dairy goats, fish, pig rearing, and egg hatching. The governor also launched 20 ward-based multi-value chain farmers' Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos), which she said were key to unlocking the potential of smallholder farmers. The Saccos will provide members with affordable operational capital and savings and credit services, information on markets and production practices, and monetary education. The initiatives are aimed at strategically positioning the farmer to be the number one supplier of raw materials for upcoming processing industries in the Sagana Industrial Park upon completion. 'Greater productivity can boost farmers' income, especially for smallholder farmers, who have limited resources to leverage on for growing and marketing their produce. Increasing productivity in agriculture is also critical to reducing poverty with cooperatives, which are an important vehicle that enables farmers to pool financial and technical resources, thus spreading their costs and drawing from collective members' experience,' she said. 'Cooperatives increase access to high-quality farming inputs, bargain on behalf of members, provide transportation services, and market produce on behalf of members; therefore, each ward of the 20 wards will have one Sacco comprising members drawn from the farmer groups that are being supported through the Wezesha Kirinyaga programme, the Governor noted. 'Eventually, the Saccos will be able to offer an e-voucher programme for subsidized farm inputs, provide crop and livestock insurance, as well as aggregate and m arket the farmers' produce,' she added. Kirinyaga Governor Ann Waiguru issuing a check to Sacco Chair's. The funding is the second batch of the third phase of financial support for the groups with the county government previously disbursing a total of Sh380.2 million, out of which Sh210.7 million was given to farmers' groups while Sh169.5 million went to farmers' cooperatives. 'The overall goal is to support farmers to increase agricultural production and productivity, positioning them as the number one suppliers of raw materials for upcoming processing industries. At the secondary industrial park, we remain committed to supporting all our farmers to increase income from farming and replace their living standards,' she added. To support the establishment and set-up of offices, Waiguru gave out computers and printers to enhance their capacity to deliver high-quality services to the members. 'The county government will support Saccos in the payment of one-year rent for their offices, and we will be paying one-year salary for a bookkeeper who has already been recruited and trained. We will also pay them one-year statutory fees to enable them to kick off operations successfully,' said Waiguru. The governor said the Saccos have already mobilized 1,666 members and Sh2.9 million in terms of savings, share capital, and registration. She urged all farmers to join the cooperatives in their respective wards in order to benefit from the variety of services they offer. Evangeline Karimi, who joined the programme in 2018, testified on how the Wezesha Kirinyaga programme has helped her as a farmer, where she keeps dairy cows and poultry projects. 'I have ventured into tomato farming on my piece of land, and now, with the subsidized fertilizer from the national government which I got from Sagana, it will enable me to lower the cost of production, and I am targeting harvesting more produce than last season. The launch of Ward-based Saccos is a timely economic intervention for farmers,' she said. A farmer from Nyangati W ard Cyrus Wambugu said that the multi-value chain Saccos would enable farmers to transition from subsistence to commercial farming since they could now access affordable operational capital. Source: Kenya News Agency

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