Mung'aro's Sh15.6b plan to boost food production

"The budget will play a key role in the realisation of my key priority areas of development," he said.

"We have distributed medical drugs to all dispensaries worth Sh300 million. We will construct boreholes in Chonyi, Kambe, and Kaloleni to expand areas under irrigation," said Mung'aro.

He said the county will distribute free seedlings of high-yielding cashew nuts recently unveiled by Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro).

According to researchers at Kalro, the four varieties have the potential to produce 2000kg per acre compared to current yields of 500kg per acre.

"We have a cashew nut factory and experts estimate that a farmer can make Sh200,000 from an acre of the new high-yielding varieties," said Mung'aro.

With the collapse of the cooperative societies in the early 90s, brokers have dominated the industry, buying directly from farmers at poor farm gate prices.

This has led to the decline of the sector since farmers could not venture into commercial farming in the sector due to low returns.

Most cashew nut farmers in Coast have also established an online payment platform to get rid of brokers blamed for woes that brought down the once-thriving sector in the region. This led to a drop in production from highs of hundreds of thousands of tonnes in the early 1980s to a paltry 5,000 tonnes annually currently.

A new factory whose construction was funded by the European Union to the tune of Sh240 million has started to process cashew nuts in Tezo, Kilifi.

The factory can process 5,000 metric tonnes of cashew nuts, a third of the country's current total production.

Last year, over 15,000 farmers from Kilifi, Lamu, and Kwale counties also signed a purchase agreement with nut processor, Ten Senses Africa Limited, to buy their produce.

Mung'aro said he will also construct boreholes in Chonyi, Kambe, and Kaloleni that will be powered by solar to distribute water to farmers in the area to irrigate their farms.

Meanwhile, the county will also set up ICT innovation hubs in Kilifi, Mtwapa, Mariakani, and Malindi towns to train and facilitate the youth to take up online jobs.

"Education of all bright but needy students in Kilifi will now be paid for by the county government. This is a programme I intend to expand and make sure all children are in school," said Mung'aro. The ban on disco matanga put in place in 2019 will not be lifted, he said.