Multiple projects to boost food production in Busia County
Mechanized agriculture has gone a long way in boosting food security in Busia County and reducing the high poverty level that originally stood at 68 per cent to 50 per cent.
According to experts a reduction of 18 per cent is there seen as a way of curbing famine and increasing revenue among the farmers.
Busia County Governor Sospeter Ojaamong’ says this success has been realised because of devolution under the new Constitution which created 47 Counties.
According to Ojaamong’, the County government has in the past three years worked around the clock to address some of the major problems farmers were facing such as lack of farm inputs to increase acreage and improve quality of their produce.
“My government provided certified maize seeds and sorghum last season at a cost of KSh10m with over 4,000 farmers benefitting,” says Ojaamong’. He notes: “We were also able to buy high-yielding tissue culture bananas at a cost of KSh5million and fertiliser which led to increased productivity.”
Ojaamong’ reiterates: “This will earn farmers a total of KSh60 million by the end of the year. A further 50,000 tissue culture banana suckers were issued to the farmers.”
However, the issue of farm inputs still remains a critical component and to solve this problem, a liquid organic fertilizer plant is being constructed at Korinda area near Government of Kenya Prison in Busia County.
Another new development is the construction of a Cassava factory which is in its final stages while the West Kenya Sugar factory is under construction. The construction of the fresh juice factory in Malaba, along the Kenya-Uganda border, is in the offing once the machinery, which is still in the high seas, is delivered.
Says Ojaamong’: “My government also distributed 35 motorcycles to agricultural extension officers based at each of the 35 wards across the county so as to assist and enable the officers reach farmers with modern crop and livestock production technologies at the ward levels.”
In order to ensure food security for the vulnerable members of our community, Busia County Government has also procured 1,240 bags of hybrid maize seeds that were distributed free of charge to all the farmers in the county.
The introduction of free farm inputs last season led to maize production increase by 30 per cent and the drastic reduction in the price of maize from KSh150 to KSh60 per two kilogramme tin which is a big relief to the residents of Busia County.
“We also managed to procure 14 tractors and implements directly from the County Government funding to be hired at sub-subsidized rates,” Ojaamong’ explains. He observes: “This has seen the area under crops go up by about 40 per cent.”
The Busia County Government had also procured 11 more tractors on behalf of rice farmers in Bunyala Sub-County, and revived Wakhungu Fisheries Training Centre. The county government has also launched free artificial insemination exercise and established three fish hatcheries in three sub-counties which include Samia, Teso South and Butula. Farmers have also benefited from free certified seeds.
“All investments in the county are held in high esteem by my government without any favour. The success of these projects will be to our benefit,” says Ojaamong’. He reiterates: “I will strive to ensure that all projects are implemented in line with the County Integrated Development Plan.”
“The Liquid Organic Fertilizer Factory is under construction at Korinda while Everest Juice Factory is rolling off at Ikapolok in Malaba Central, Cassava Factory is in progress at Simba Chai while sugar factories are ongoing at Busibwabo and Olepito respectively,” explains Ojaamong’.
The County government is upgrading Wakhungu Fisheries Training and Seed Production Centre to increase production of fingerlings and to mechanise the dairy sector.
So far, Busia County government has donated 97 acres of land at Agricultural Training Centre that will pave way for the establishment of Masinde Muliro University School of Agriculture.
It’s hoped the school will later be transformed into a full-fledged university within the next three years.
According to Ojaamong, Busia County Government will give full support to Masinde Muliro University for the establishment of the faculty in the county.
According to Ojaamong’, agriculture being the backbone of the county, the faculty will go a long way in enabling the county to produce more agricultural products.
“Masinde Muliro University is an investor to the county and investing in an institution is better than investing in an industry,” Ojaamong’ stresses.
Last March, Busia County Government successfully hosted an international investment conference which helped unveil the untapped potential that has been lying dormant in the county.
The meeting identified many investment opportunities with prospects of better things ahead once construction of on-going projects is completed.
The largest project in the region has been the Busia Sugar Factory at Busibwabo which is expected to create over 3,000 direct job opportunities when up and running. About 80 per cent of the construction has been covered.
However, Ojaamong’ says constant court battles has cast doubts on the legal system which calls for investigations into motives behind those pushing to frustrate the county government’s development efforts .
Says Ojaamong’: “This unfortunate scenario calls for urgent intervention by the national government to protect investors. We regret that a few individuals in our county are halting our development agenda by trying to frustrate investors who have pumped in billions of shillings for our people.”
Ojaamong’ is appealing to the national government to intervene as a matter of urgency and find a lasting solution to the unending saga before its launch in February by the President.
The closure has caused untold suffering to over 900 youths in the county who were earning their living with available jobs. Unfortunately the injunction has seen them go without payment.
Recently some of the youth took to the streets to protest against the Governor and his government. They later delivered their memorandum to Ojaamong’s office.
During the interview, Ojaamong’ called for the stalemate to be ended urgently.