By Stephen Muthini
Farmers in Machakos County have received financial boost to increase productivity after the County government issued cheques worth over Sh138 million to various Cooperative Societies and Community Based Organizations.
The cheques were issued by governor Wavinya Ndeti at Machakos People’s Park where farmers’ groups also showcased their products.
The event billed as the launch of governor Ndeti’s ‘Chakula Mezani,Pesa Mfukoni’ initiative which was a key pillar of Ms Ndeti’s campaign manifesto was attended by various officials in the Agriculture Livestock Fisheries and Co-operatives departments as well as experts from the Kenya Agricultural Research and Livestock Organization (KARLO) based in Katumani, Machakos.
The funds are meant to enable farmers procure material and farm inputs as well as capacity building.
Mukuyuni Coffee Farmers Cooperative Society received Sh28 million,with Kakuyuni Cooperative receiving Sh16 Million while,Kola and Kalama CBO received Sh8 million and Sh7 Million respectively.
Other groups which also received funding included Masii CBO,Sh8 Million,Katangi CBO Sh8 Million,Ikombe CBO,Sh7 Million,Muthetheni CBO,Sh7 Million and Masinga Central Ward CBO,sh4 million among others.
Governor Ndeti said she will issue more cheques to Saccos and CBOs.
She said her government is keen on promoting the use of modern technology in mapping agro-ecological zones to maximize production.
“This will ensure each Ward has at least one product which will enhance economies of scale in production and marketing,” said Ndeti.
She further revealed that the County had not employed any Agricultural Extension officers in the last ten years adding that she will employ 80 extension officers with two officers being posted to each of the 40 wards in order to help farmers increase Agricultural production to ensure food security in the county.
County Agriculture Executive Dr Joel Nzomo called on the national government to waive loans owed to coffee farmers as this had made farmers remain poor as they earned little from their produce.
“We have to redeem our farmers from slavery due to loans. I have heard the President talk of loan waiver. We need to assist these farmers,”said Nzomo, adding that coffee farmers were earning as little as Sh60 per kilogram of coffee and promised to ensure that they earned at least Sh100 for the same.
Coffee Cooperative Societies in the county have over Sh500 million debts.
KARLO Director Mr Patrick Katiem asked farmers to adopt technologies which are suitable for the region adding that the seeds they were currently planting may not be viable in the next planting season.
He revealed that KARLO had distributed 16 tonnes of assorted seeds to farmers in Lower Eastern region and had contracted 300 farmers from the region who grow the seeds thus earning income from the engagement.
About 70 per cent of the households in Machakos County depend on Agriculture.