Agriculture and trading activities in Trans Nzoia County have received a major boost following the official launch of the construction of the County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIP). County Governor George Natembeya and Trade Cabinet Secretary (CS) Moses Kuria led area residents to the colourful ceremony held at the Agricultural Development Authority (ADC) Namalanda Farm in Kwanza Sub County on Thursday afternoon. Addressing the jubilant locals, CS Kuria termed the proposed aggregation and industrial park as an important project set to significantly boost economic activities in Trans Nzoia, which has been described as the country's grain basket. According to the CS, despite Trans Nzoia County farmers being the greatest producers of maize crops in the entire country, they have little to boast about their hard work. CS Kuria blamed the same on lack of the necessary infrastructure, crucial for adding value to the harvested crop, to enable farmers to reap maximum profits from their maize farms. He underscored the key objective of the envisaged CAIP in addressing the challenge. 'Official data indicates Trans Nzoia farmers contribute up to 45 per cent of the maize produced in the country annually,' disclosed Kuria. Emphasising the significance of the CAIP, the CS observed that while maize farmers had nothing to smile about after harvesting the crop, it was maize millers' barons in Mombasa County that were smiling after reaping what he termed as exorbitant profits. 'It beats logic to see harvested maize in Trans Nzoia bought at extremely low prices by barons who take the raw product to Mombasa, where it is processed into various value-added products before the very end products are transported here and sold at exorbitant prices,' decried Kuria. According to the CS, the Aggregation and Industrial Park will house several factories, including those dealing with unga, milk, avocado, tomatoes, sunflower, and poultry, among others. Besides enabling farmers to reap maximum benefits from their farm, the CS further highlighted that the CAIP would also create job opportunities for the locals as well as reduce post-harvest losses currently being incurred by the farmers. 'In addition, once completed and operational, the envisaged CAIP will attract foreign investors to this great county,' added Kuria. He pointed out that the County Aggregation and Industrial Parks were at the centre of President William Ruto's desires as one way of promoting the Bottom-Up policy of empowering ordinary citizens at the grassroots. 'One of the promises made during the campaigns and documented in the Kenya Kwanza manifesto was the establishment of CAIPs,' Kuria said. The CAIP is an ambitious development partnership between the national government and all 47 county governments, as documented in Kenya Kwanza's Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). The CS announced that the national government had allocated Sh250 million towards the Trans Nzoia CAIP, while the devolved unit had allocated a similar amount in addition to the 100-acre tract of land that the park would sit on. The government envisioned the establishment of county-based Aggregation and Industrial parks that would help each part of the country access development and economic growth in a fair and equitable manner. Addressing the gathering, Governor Natembeya hailed the initiative, which he said would enable the devolved unit to become the leading exporter of agricultural products in the country. 'The launch of CAIP is an enviable milestone in our county's economic growth and development,' stated Natembeya. 'It will serve as a central hub for processing agricultural products and manufacturing, establishing a vital link between local farmers, industries, and both national and international markets,' he added while underscoring the positive impact the park would have on local farmers, particularly in the maize sector. He stressed that the initiative was one of the collaborative efforts by both the national and county governments aimed at accelerating economic growth and, at the same time, improving service delivery and living standards for the citizens. The Principal Secretary (PS) for Industrialization, Juma Mukhwana, estimated that construction work for the CAIP would be completed within 18 months. Trans Nzoia Senator Allan Chesang pledged his commitment to ensuring the locals enjoyed the maximum benefits of devolution.
Source: Kenya News Agency