Farmers in Kisumu can breathe a sigh of relief as the County Government in partnership with a UK-based company, United Green Group (UG) unveils a flagship agriculture investment program set to revitalize the sector.
The sustainable agri-food project would provide the local farmers with sustainable agricultural methodologies, farming services and agro-industrial facilities. Thus, creating new markets for the farming communities in the Lake Basin region and making significant contributions to the region’s food security.
Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o and UG Director and Head of Agriculture and Food Investments, Rod Bassett signed the first phase of the agreement on Monday in Kisumu.
The transformative agriculture venture that would be implemented in a five-year period is projected to reduce the country’s dependence on imported food produce by Sh23 billion annually thus reducing Kenya’s trade deficit.
According to Prof. Nyong’o, the project being undertaken jointly by Kisumu County and United Green with support from the national Government would cushion subsistence farmers from the perennial losses and other farming predicaments.
“United Green brings farmers together for efficiency in farming to ensure they gain value in their products. Kenya needs a champion organization to provide leadership and prudent investment to develop inclusive, market-based and environmentally sustainable agri-food systems,” said the Governor.
Kisumu Lakefront Development Corporation chairperson, Dr. Edward Ouko said that with the rigorous development approach the project has adopted, the lake region stands to experience an economic investment boost.
The Deputy UK High Commissioner and Development Director, Julius Court, a key stakeholder in the program, speaking at the event exuded optimism that the initiative would turn out to be the largest and most modern integrated agri-food and services operation in Kenya.
This, he said, positions the project as the leading strategic player in the development of the country’s high potential agricultural sector.
“We are excited about the impact with respect to job creation, enhanced crop production for the out-grower community, improved livelihoods and food security,” Julius said.
Through the program, 100,000 hectares of primary farms from surrounding farming communities would be integrated to create smallholder farmer scheme with the aim of increasing their productivity and providing support for sustainable farming methods.
In addition, the project would subsequently commit to off-taker agreements with the farmers to provide them with financial security.
The County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries Gilchrist Okuom revealed that 20,000 rural households will be targeted for incorporation in the new agri-food operating system and that over 2,000 people would be directly employed when the enterprise would be operating at full capacity.