Farmers in Kwale County no longer have to worry about unscrupulous middlemen, thanks to Kwale Pamba and Viazi Cooperative Society (PAVI).
PAVI, which was formed in 2014, has enabled local farmers to participate in agricultural livelihood programmes initiated by Base Titanium Company.
According to John Cooke, the programme manager, its membership has grown tremendously over the years.
Initially the aim was to bring together cotton farmers in Kwale to enable them to export collectively and benefit from economies of scale.
However, PAVI’s mandate has since expanded to include other crops such as cowpeas, green grams, maize, potato, sorghum and soya beans – mirroring the expansion of Base’s livelihood programme.
During a recent seed distribution drive in Kikoneni area, Cooke said PAVI had positively impacted the lives of farmers and empowered them through education awareness and providing market linkages.
He added that PAVI had created a direct link to the market, hence reducing chances of farmers being exploited by middlemen.
PAVI’s founding member and current chairman Mahmud Masemo recounted the many benefits they have accrued adding that Kwale County is now well positioned to be a leading producer of cash crops that will uplift the living standards of residents.
“I am now a successful potato and cotton farmer. I am happy that I am able to earn over Sh100,000 from sale of my produce,” he said. “I have built a permanent house and educated my children.”
Cooke said that this year Base Titanium Company through its livelihoods programmes has distributed over 24 tonnes of seed which includes cotton, cowpeas, green grams, maize, potato, sorghum and soy beans to over 1,000 farmers.
The partnership has also successfully sealed a deal with East African Breweries Limited, which enables farmers to directly sell their sorghum to the beer manufacturer and cotton to Australia’s largest value fashion company, which directly purchases lint cotton from the farmers at competitive prices.
The partners, however, envisaged an independent and self-sustaining cooperative by 2020 as outlined in PAVI’s five -year strategic plan.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we create a sustainable community that will outlast the life of the mine,” said the company Community Affairs Manager Pius Kassim.
By Collins Akong’o
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