Farmers to reap big as County supports banana value chain.

The Kisii County Government will continue supporting efforts by the National Agricultural-Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NAGRIP) aimed at Increasing Productivity and Profitability of banana crop production.

Speaking during a banana value chain stakeholder’s forum at a Kisii hotel, Governor James Ongwae said NAGRIP is already rolling out projects in 20 wards spread across six sub-counties including Bonchari,Kitutu Chache north,Nyaribari, Masaba,Bobasi,Bomachoge Chache and South Mugirango.

The Governor noted that increased productivity in the Agriculture Sector is a step towards enhancing food security in the country which goes in tandem with President Kenyatta’s Big 4 agenda.

The forum brought together stake-holders comprised of all key value chain actors to identify challenges, find ideas and solutions to address the challenges in the banana value chain to make the banana value chain competitive and commercialised.

“The role of the stakeholders platform is to bring together farmer representatives, Agriculture researchers, farm input suppliers, producers, Agro dealers, processors, marketers, policy makers, regulators and other development partners to consult, exchange views and put forward viable solutions to address challenges facing the banana value chain,” he said.

Ongwae disclosed that the county government has been engaging with farmers dealing in banana production with a view to assisting them undertake best practices in farming to boost production.

“I am happy the National Government has recognised our efforts and nominated Kisii to host this forum for the Lake Region front,” said Ongwae.

NAGRIP project, a concerted effort involving the World Bank, International Development Association (IDA), Ministry of Agriculture and  21 County Governments is aimed at improving the livelihoods of farmers through enhanced and sustainable high end production in horticulture, poultry and livestock.

The wards covered by the project include in Kisii Masige East, Bassi Central, Bassi Bogetaorio, Bosoti Sengera, Majoge East, Boochi Tendere, Bogetenga, Boikanga, Chitago Borabu, Getenga, Bogiakumu, Bomorenda, Bomariba, Marani, Sensi, Monyerero, Kiamokama, Gesusu and Nyamasibi.

 “All our 9 sub-counties are arable with high agricultural potential and the learning experience from the project focal areas will ultimately spread out to benefit farmers in the entire county and beyond,” said Ongwae.

Kisii County is known for banana production. Over 5000 hectares have been collectively put under banana plantation through individual farmer initiatives with a production rate of 19 tonnes of green fingers per hectare.

County Executive Committee (CEC) member in charge of Agriculture Esman Onsarigo disclosed that in 2017 alone, over 95 tonnes of green fingers were produced   in Kisii, fetching farmers over 1.9 billion shillings in direct sales.

“However, due to the perishability of banana produce, farmers have always fallen prey to middlemen who broker green bunches at low prices, disadvantaging the farmer,” he said. “This calls for value addition and more organised ways of storage and marketing to give farmers value for their produce,” he added.

Ongwae revealed that the European UNION is in collaboration with the National Government and Kisii County government putting up a Banana processing factory in Kisii to atune of 196 million shillings.

 The factory which is projected to process up to 80 metric tonnes of raw banana fingers per day is poised to eliminate losses banana farmers currently incur by selling their produce direct for the farms.