The launch of Vihiga County Aggregation Industrial Park has lifted economic prospects among residents, who believe it will stimulate development in a county that boasts only Mudete Tea factory.
Once operational, the project promises enhanced productivity in agriculture and the creation of jobs that will see farmers earn more and youth secure jobs.
The industrial park is projected to generate at least 1,000 jobs while benefiting thousands of farmers and reducing poverty levels. Farmers are expected to supply bananas, avocados, soybeans and dairy products to the park for processing according to county officials.
Residents said they expect to benefit from the multi-million shilling industrial park. James Omuterema, a resident of Luanda, said he would cultivate soybeans on his two-acre piece of land. "We have been told about the benefits of the industrial park and we are determined to have our farms ready for planting when the rains start," said Omuterema.
A section of farmers have challenged the government to prioritise the aggregation section to create a ready market for their produce. Shem Sabwa, a farmer from Sabatia, said all they wanted was a ready market for their produce to avert losses.
The industrial park will offer a platform where farmers, processors, exporters, research institutions, industrial bodies, and the government will engage in agro-industrial development.
Post-harvest losses will be history as all agricultural products will be stored in the aggregation section that will serve as a coordination point for exports.
Public Service, Performance and Delivery Management Cabinet Secretary Moses Kuria (formerly Trade CS) who launched the project one week ago, said the government will continue engaging counties on industrial parks.
"We will use this park to grow industrialisation and income that will guarantee Kenyans quality life by 2030 in a clean and secure environment," said Kuria.
Vihiga County and the national government will each contribute Sh250 million towards the industrial park project expected to be ready after one year. Plans to rehabilitate the railway line passing through the industrial park are in top gear to ferry goods and services to major towns like Kisumu and Nairobi.
Governor Wilber Ottichilo said the industrial park will see farmers add value to their produce and earn more. "We are an agricultural county and we know this is the time to shift from subsistence agriculture to agri-business through value addition," said Ottichilo.
Vihiga Senator Godfrey Osotsi has challenged the national government to release funds meant for the project.