Kisii is among 12 municipalities that benefitted from a 70-million-pound Sustainable Economic Development (SUED) programme.
Speaking when he received a team from SUED led by Simon Elliot and Principal Secretary, State Department for Mining John Omenge, Governor James Ongwae thanked the British Government through the Department for International Development (DFID) for selecting Kisii among 53 municipalities that sent their proposals last year.
“It was a competitive selection exercise and I am delighted that the county’s proposal was among the best,” he said. Implementation of the programme has officially commenced in Kisii Municipality following a readiness assessment conducted earlier this year.
In its proposal, the county prioritized soapstone and fruit processing value chains that have a high impact on the lives of residents.
Elliot said SUED will work with the Kisii Municipal leadership to intergrate value chain development into its urban planning.
“With SUED help, the municipality will utilize a systematic approach to sustainable economic development,” said Elliot.
Elliot who was accompanied by SUED institutional Strengthening Lead Jeremiah Nyambane and Stakeholder Lead Godwin Ochieng said they will work with the municipal leadership to innovate solutions that are cognizant of norms and resources.
Omenge expressed the commitment of the national government to support the value chain project saying value addition was the way to go in efforts to help farmers who have suffered for long in the hands of the middlemen.
Governor Ongwae said Kisii has a unique rock in the whole world found in Tabaka in South Mugirango sub county adding that the county produces large quantities of banana, avocado, sugarcane among other fruits.
“We need to eliminate middlemen by venturing into value addition to increase earnings for our people,” said the Governor.
Ongwae who was flanked by his Deputy Joash Maangi, Speaker of the County Assembly David Kombo, County Secretary Patrick Lumumba, Members of County Executives among other senior government officers said coffee, chewing sugarcane and traditional vegetables can also be considered in the programme for value addition.
“Average farm gate payment for coffee stands at KShs. 35 per kilo of cherry and KShs. 50 per kilo of mbuni. Sadly, most of our coffee is sold through auction to markets in Europe where it is used for blending other coffees due to the unique aroma,” he said.
He also indicated that the county produces a unique type of sugarcane whose farm gate price is KShs. 10.
“Middlemen transport the cane to towns like Nairobi, Eldoret, Mombasa and Nakuru where they sell it at KShs. 100. We can leverage on this crop and engage in value addition where the cane can be crushed to produce juice that can be used to make confectionery and other products,” said Ongwae.
On traditional vegetables, Ongwae revealed that the county produces nchisaga, managu among other vegetables but farmers are exploited with farm gate price standing at Kshs. 3,000 and KShs. 600 per 30 kg bag but the same is sold at KShs. 5,000 and KShs. 2,000 respectively in Nairobi.
“We have piloted a programme where we dry these vegetables using solar driers then package them for sale in the diaspora because they are popular,” noted Ongwae.