By Asa Maina
Nyeri County is largely dependent on the Cooperative sector for its socio-economic growth and transformation, governor Mutahi Kahiga has said.
Enumerating the successes of the sector, Kahiga said that the county has over 193 active Cooperative Societies with a total share capital of over Ksh2.3 billion, an asset base of over Ksh19 billion and a membership of over 450,000.
The Cooperatives are in all sectors, which include coffee, dairy, poultry, banana, cereals, potatoes and herbal products.
Transport sector Cooperatives were dominated by matatu and bodabodas before the newly registered lorry sector came into being.
“Savings and Credit Cooperatives are based on employment, farmers, business communities and newly registered liquor sellers,” he said.
The Cooperative movement is still growing with the registration of a worker Cooperative whose members are drawn from mountain climbers, guides and porters.
Kahiga said Cooperatives are powerful vehicles used in pooling produce together, processing and marketing them to attain the best prices, and accumulating savings for future credit purposes.
“Investment co-operatives have served their members with varieties of investment options, hence building their members’ wealth. They also manage the assets of their members and share the profits amongst them,” he pointed out.
The county government, he said, recognizes them as the best model for economic empowerment by addressing challenges facing Co-operatives, for example through capacity building programmes for all co-operative leaders and their senior technical staff.
For the last three years, it has sponsored the courses by fully paying for them where 1,500 leaders have so far been trained. Governance and leadership in co-operatives, human resource management, group dynamics and team work are some of the areas covered.
Others are financial management in co-operatives, risk and debt management, automation in co-operatives, value addition, diversification and quality control, succession planning and management, and cross-cutting issues.
“The government efforts to improve service delivery and support Cooperatives have paid off and the number of complaints from members has greatly declined. We are committed to continue encouraging Cooperative leaders to use resources efficiently and effectively so that their members can draw maximum benefits,” he remarked.
To realize more from agricultural activities, he said, extension officers have been training farmers on more advanced farming methods and in formulation of animal feeds from locally available raw materials, reducing production costs.
Other support by the county government include the donation of 26 milk coolers to the dairy sector, pasteurizers, backup generators, automatic milk dispensers, pre-chillers motorcycles with 100 litres capacity and solar water heaters.
Wakulima dairy and Kieni Dairy Products Limited have benefitted from a Ksh21 million and Ksh12 million donations respectively to upscale their capacity in processing, with Ksh1million each being an inclusion grant for mobilization and capacity building of their members.
Other interventions include starting demonstration farms, provision of fodder seedlings, fertilizers, supplements such as heat boosters, and sexed semen and accessories.
“The coffee sector has benefitted with lime, manure, coffee seedlings, mycorrhizal bio fertilizer, soil testing machines, pumping machines, rehabilitation of coffee drying tables, coffee graders and pulpers,” he said.
The governor called on Cooperatives to implement programmes that will grow the societies, innovate products that will benefit its members and continually give their best to make them even better.