The Italian Agency for Development Cooperative (IADC) has offered to support 15,000 farmers in 30 dairy cooperatives in Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu counties to improve livestock and increase milk production by 70 per cent.
Set to be under the management of an Italian non-governmental organization AVSI, which has been overseeing agricultural economic recovery projects in the three counties, the partnership is set to benefit farmers through increased milk and coffee production.
Incomes of up to Ksh400 million are also targeted in both dairy and Arabica coffee farming through innovative skills to treat farming as a commercial enterprise.
Over 70 per cent of households under the project areas of coverage are set to have incomes increased by 30 per cent, while milk post-harvest losses will be reduced by 50 per cent.
In the blueprint seen by Sacco Review, some 500 value chain jobs will be created and at least 2.5 million pounds generated by production catalysis, value addition and trade activities.
The University of Embu is one of the project partners following its signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with AVSI, whose economic empowerment programmes have deep roots across various parts of the country.
The university management has been keen to collaborate with local and international partners to foster international cooperation targeted at enhancing agricultural development in Embu County and across the country.
Discussions have taken place between the Department of Agriculture in Embu County and the various international partners from the Italian agency.
A report from the university said their primary objective is to deliberate on potential areas of collaboration, particularly focusing on AVSI’s ongoing projects in Embu, Meru, and Tharaka Nithi counties.
Major campaigns according to the report have been launched to ensure that farmers are equipped with financial resources and managerial skills through matching grants to improve value addition in dairy products as well as commercial activities.
Other areas targeted for elevation touch on economic recovery initiatives and the promotion of Arabica coffee farming in the three counties.
Coffee-based cooperatives in Embu, Meru and Tharaka Nithi have been struggling with value addition and establishing direct markets in Europe to cut out export cartels, which have been accused of reaping bigger profits than farmers.
The Arabica coffee initiative is a 3-year project set to end in April 2024 that synchronizes with the strategies of the Kenyan government and its counties in the development of the coffee value chain in the country.
AVSI Foundation is a non-profit, non-governmental organization (NGO) with its roots in Italy and has since expanded its presence globally, working on various humanitarian and development projects in multiple countries, including Kenya.
By Robert Nyagah
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