Possible partnership areas for Makueni with AGRA, Bayer

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By AGRA Digital, March, 22, 2023, AGRA has continued to employ strategic partnerships to inspire an alignment between the interests of private sectors and government priorities to better improve small-scale farming. This could also see the mobilization of private sector investment.

AGRA team, alongside Natasha Santos, the vice president at the Germany-based Bayer Crop science visited Makueni County in the first week of March 2023 to assess some of the important areas for partnership with a focus driven toward supporting agricultural transformation among smallholder farmers.

“The mission today is to learn from the Makueni County Government concerning opportunities, knowledge, and partnership, and acknowledge the challenges that AGRA and Bayer could recognize thus helping the organization to bring more people on board,” John Macharia, AGRA Country Manager for Kenya said.

“I am here to learn from the County Government of Makueni and recommend to the Bayer team some of the areas where development is necessary.” Santos reiterated.

Consequently, Joyce Mutua, County Executive Committee member, Makueni, in charge of irrigation, Livestock Agriculture and cooperative Development highlighted some of the priority areas that the county government is currently overseeing.

“We are at the start of the five-year cycle of the government, and every regime introduces new policy direction,” said the CEC. “Focus of the existing government is on transformation with focus placed on agriculture,” she explained.

Ms Mutua stated that in Makueni, the County Integrated Development Plan (CIDP), a five year document, is about agricultural transformation.

Makueni County is therefore, looking at value chain development in areas not limited to rabbits, poultry, green grams, beans, pigeon peas, fruits and livestock among others.

It is unfortunate that nearly 56% of househols in Makueni County are food insecure and yet more than 80% of the households rely on agriculture for livelihood, “ She said.

She highlighted that so far, there are efforts to produce food for commercialization. “The county is currently looking at enough production of food. This is because if we attain the primary target of feeding the world, then we will afford to feed ourselves, and be assured of food security,” she reiterated.

The county, so far, is already walking toward feeding the world by exporting mangoes, French beans, and pulses. The county government is also working toward exporting avocados.

Albeit, the CFC noted that those value chains being exported have not been well developed, and that is thus one of the areas that require partnerships.

She pointed out that if it is poultry value chain for example, the farmer should target not less than 200 birds at any given time. If it is dairy farming, the farmer will need to have at least four animals, out of which at least two are lactating. If it is green grams, the farmer should target at least five acres under the crop.

“If we get this correctly and aggregate the farmers, then we will have enough for commercialization,” said the CEC. “We are already clear on the strategy for mango value chain, and the strategy for exportation of pixie oranges is coming out very well,” she added.

The ban that had been imposed on the exportation of mangoes has since been lifted. The county had been banned from exporting the fruits because of some pests, and slightly above average chemical reside levels. The lifting came in after the government introduced the use of pheromone traps to achieve low pest zones in Kibwezi and Mbitini areas, where mangoes mature earlier than the interior zones. But the county is slowly expanding the acreage under the low pest zones.

Ms Mutua said that investing in integrated pest management to expand low pest zones is therefore another area that needs partnerships.

So far, mangoes from low pest zones retail at up to Sh40 a piece in the export market, four times higher than what is found in the open market.

Makueni County has installed a plant that is producing puree, though in low volumes. However, this season, the county purchased one million kilograms of mangoes from local farmers.

“We are doing the market study, and this is an area we are seeking for support. We are looking at how we engage with the private sector partnership in the mango value chain. This is because the government has its own limitations based on how it runs,” said the CEC noting that sometimes, money coming from the government arrive late, which is not good for such projects that involve perishables.

“We are also setting up a drying plant so that we can absorb as many mangoes as possible. There is a huge market for the dried mangoes, and we are exploring many more value addition techniques including the use of hot pepper on the dried mango crisps,” she told the AGRA and Bayer team, pointing out that one youth group is already exporting dried mangoes to South Africa and USA.

Dairy farming is another area that the county government is working on, though the facilities in place are not running at the moment. “We need support to boost fodder production. We also need involvement of the private sector to develop the required facilities, because we can still buy milk from elsewhere to be processed in our facilities,” said Ms Mutua.

Other areas of interest include scaling up of production and aggregation to bypass brokers who always take advantage to offer very poor prices.

The county government is also planning to put up a testing facility because at the moment it is relying on the Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) and other facilities in Nairobi for testing, which takes a long turnaround time.

The county is in the process of putting up phase one of agriculture and food laboratory that will be able to test the soils, and the food laboratory that will support the angle of processing.

“We are also planning to put up an industrial park to be supported by aggregation centers. That is where we will do incubations like starter businesses, and host businesses that just need to run,” said Ms Mutua.

“At the moment, we are not very industrialized as a county due to lack of infrastructure, such as electricity, water supply, sewage system among other amenities,” she noted.


Tags: #AGRA, #Makueni county, #Partnership

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