Nine counties approve Sh3b agro-industrial park project

Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi gives beehives to farmers living near the Imenti Forest yesterday. [Phares Mutembei, Standard]

Nine counties in the Lake Region Economic Bloc have endorsed a Sh3 billion agro-industrial park that is being initiated by the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (Unido).

Industrialisation and Mining Principal Secretary Kirimi Kaberia, Nyamira Governor Amos Nyaribo, Unido Acting Country Director Kawira Bucyana and representatives of Kisii, Kericho, Bomet, Nandi, Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay governors approved the feasibility study that paves way for implementation of the scheme.

The bloc comprises 14 counties. Others are Bungoma, Busia, Kakamega, Trans Nzoia and Vihiga.

The validation was done at the Guardian Hotel in Nyamira, where more than 300 stakeholders met on Monday.

The consultant engineer Chandrachoodan Narayanan from the Mahindra Engineering Consultancy assured the stakeholders that works of the proposed project will take less than three years to complete.

Mr Kaberia said the industrial park will improve the economy of the counties and change the fortunes of farmers.

The park will, among others, accommodate a livestock, poultry and fisheries processing zone, cold storage facilities, solid waste management unit and training centre.

“This will be a shared wealth creation opportunity for all the counties and as a result, the individual devolved unit’s can best succeed if they specialise in production of two or three value chains. This will be the best approach,” said the PS. Governor Nyaribo said his administration has isolated 265 acres of land at Sironga, about 10km from the county headquarters, for the project.

He noted that the Kenya Airports Authority has already approved plans to have an airport next to the park.

“We have another project of an airport that will be a great boost for the industrial park. The only challenge will be the supply of raw materials, but with the assurance of a good start, all the counties will have to put heads together and map out the remaining success path,” said the governor.

Ms Bucyana asked the counties to move with speed in setting up a strong base of supply of agricultural commodities.

“It has been common knowledge since pre-independence Kenya that trade in raw materials has not been bringing real returns to the farmers. Establishing the park means that there will be more value to farmers’ products,” she said.

“By establishing this industrial park, farmers will have broader markets for their agricultural commodities... They can add value and export the improved products and this will reduce perishability.”

The investment will be the only one in Kenya and second to the one in Adis Ababa, Ethiopia, according to Unido.