Kisumu unveils ambitious farming projects

Some of the tractors that were purchased by Kisumu County government to improve farming in the region. [Photo: Odhiambo Alal]
Some of the tractors that were purchased by Kisumu County government to improve farming in the region. [Photo: Odhiambo Alal]

Farmers in Kisumu County are staring at a bright future, thanks to the recent purchase of 23 tractors by the County government.

The farmers are able to access the tractors and machinery at a subsidized rate of KSh1,500 per acre. The tractors include a rice reaper, rice thresher, several ploughs and rotovators.

The purchase of farm tractors and accessories by the County government is a sign of confidence that the investment will pay dividends as most farmers have embrace mechanized agriculture.

Recently, farmers at West Kano and Ahero irrigation schemes received 23 tractors, disc ploughs and rice harvesting machines which are critical in increasing production of the commodity to support several households in the region.

The tractors will be based at the seven sub-counties to help farmers prepare their land to boost farming activities. They are Seme, Kisumu Central, Kisumu West, Kisumu East, Nyando, Muhoroni and Nyakach. The county government has also donated quality rice including rain fed variety and sorghum seeds to the farmers.

This is in response to earlier concerns that lack of mechanization in farming contributed to food insecurity in the region.

The county government is subsidising the cost of hiring the tractors to boost their uptake, something that has enabled farmers to engage in large
scale high value crop production.

Commitment

Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma says the initiative is a clear sign of the county government’s commitment to food security and value addition for economic growth of the lakeside region.

“We want more people to come forward and cultivate farms that have been lying fallow because of their large sizes,” stresses Ranguma. He explains: “Farmers are only required toOdhiambo Alal pay KSh1,500 per acre to use the tractors.”

Under the food security initiative, Ranguma has reclaimed three valleys that used to lie idle and launched a pilot sorghum project to turn the county into a bread basket.

The first pilot project was rolled out at Oria Matera Scheme in Nyando Sub-County which has been known for rice production since its inception in the
1980s.

However, having benefitted from food security initiative that was started in 22 countries that signed an agreement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) under the Kenya Agriculture Value Chain Enterprises (KAVES) project, farmers at the scheme have embraced sorghum growing during the rice-off-season as a way of maximizing production from their farms.

According to Ranguma, more than 400 acres was ploughed with over 3,000 farmers promoting sorghum farming.

“The county government provided the farmers with subsidized seeds, fertilisers and technical assistance, and a bumper harvest was realized,” observes Ranguma.

Jane Kisia, Director of Oria Matera Scheme, who was among the first people to benefit from the project, is happy and says that the diversity has brought fortune to their lives.

Improvement

“Initially we used to plant traditional sorghum which was not very good in terms of returns, but since the county government introduced the ‘Gadam’ which is a hybrid seed, farmers can afford to smile all the way to the bank,” Kisia notes.

The initiative has created continuous employment for the people of the area as the youths who have been idling now have somewhere to get an income thereby reducing incidents of petty thefts.

The residents are now eating better and their diet has improved since inception of the programme. Some of the area residents are now diverting their resources from buying food to other development projects.

“The first harvest in the programme was such a bumper harvest that residents nicknamed it “bend Ranguma (Ranguma’s sorghum)”,” says Kisia.

She adds: “USAID provided ready market in collaboration with Kenya Breweries Limited at where the farmers were being paid KSh26 per kilogramme of sorghum.”

The success of the project has convinced the County government to replicate it at Mboha Valley in Seme Sub-County, where 100 acres of swampy
land has been reclaimed and committed to sorghum growing. A similar initiative is also on-going at Nam Thoi valley.

Previously, area residents had abandoned parcels of land that were swampy and could only be used as grazing fields.

“This valley (Mboha) has a potential to feed Kisumu residents and we are grateful that the county government has reclaimed it and revamped farming,” says Samwel Opiyo, a farmer.

Ranguma on the other hand maintains that mechanisation of agriculture will increase productivity which will result in higher yields and food security to county residents.

Ranguma would like Kisumu County residents to take advantage of the available opportunities to increase their income by embracing new technologies and value addition to boost food production.

“Farmers need to diversify and adopt modern farming technologies to increase crop production that will help reduce perennial famine in the county,” Ranguma notes.

The governor’s efforts are also supported by the County member of the National Assembly Rose Nyamunga.

Poultry

Nyamunga who is the Kisumu County Women Representative is calling on farmers to embrace poultry farming to bridge chicken and egg shortage in the county.

She notes that egg production in Kisumu is low with the deficit supplemented by business people from as far as Uganda.

According to Nyamunga, nearly all the eggs consumed in Kisumu are imported from Uganda making the county lose about KSh10million per week.

“I am appealing to more farmers to venture into poultry saying the shortage will only addressed if residents venture into serious farming,” reiterates Nyamunga.

The MP has rolled out poultry farming with various women’s groups in Kisumu and notes that the shortage will only be filed if residents venture into
serious farming.

From poultry, Nyamunga projects the County will produce one million eggs per week for export and local consumption once every group has received their portion of chicken.

Already there are 5,000 chicks ready for distribution to various groups in 26 out of 35 wards within the county.

“We hope that with proper farming methods, cases of egg shortage in the county will be a thing of the past,” observes Nyamunga, who is planning to distribute over 50,000 chicks across the county.

She notes that the County government plans to develop an export processing zone and hence the need to invest in poultry as an agribusiness.

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