10,000 farmers in Siaya to benefit from sunflower seeds

Siaya County Agriculture Executive Sylvester K'Okoth flags off the consignment at the NCPB Depot in Bondo. [Isaiah Gwengi, Standard]

At least 10,000 farmers in Siaya County are set to benefit from 16.35 metric tons of sunflower seeds during this long rain season.

Speaking while flagging off the consignment at the National Cereals and Produce Board Depot in Bondo, the County Executive for Agriculture, Food Security, Livestock, and Blue Economy Sylvester K'Okoth said that they are targeting to put 6,000 acres under sunflower production.

K'Okoth was optimistic that this will increase sunflower production from the current 2.7 tons to more than 16 metric tons annually.

"In addition to edible oil, sunflower provides high-quality feed for livestock from its by-product, provides nectar for bees and thereby supports agriculture and also enhances soil conservation and protection," he said.

County Director of Agriculture, Isaac Munyendo said that the county government has four oil extractors that farmers can utilise and earn up to Sh300,000 from edible oil per acre of the crop.

Munyendo noted that from a one-acre piece of land, a farmer can earn up to Sh500,000 from selling seed cake to animal feed millers.

He said that the county has favourable weather suitable for sunflower production. Munyendo noted that the crop is drought resistant, can be inter-cropped with maize and sorghum, it is easy to cultivate and matures within three months.

He assured of the county government's support for sunflower farmers through the provision of inputs and extension services.

"This will ensure that edible oils importation is minimized as the economic revolution and agricultural transformation under the Nyalore administration stays on course," said Munyendo.

According to a recent report on the status of sunflower farming in the county, Siaya is producing 0.91 per cent of its potential.

Jackson Achuti, an Assistant Agricultural Officer, said the county has a potential that if exploited can transform its economic fortunes.

"More farmers in the six sub-counties are taking up oil crop farming because of the ready market," he said, adding that sunflower is fast replacing traditional crops such as maize and sorghum because of high returns.

Siaya is among the 24 counties earmarked to benefit from a sunflower promotion project that aims to boost local production of sunflower oil and address the cost of edible oils in the country.

Through the five-year edible oil promotion project, the national government has pumped in Sh1 billion and procured 570 metric tonnes of seedlings that will be distributed to farmers in the selected counties.

The project aims to increase the acreage of sunflowers from the current 4,000 acres to 200,000 acres by the end of the year.

The project also aims to lower the high import bill of edible oils which currently stands at Sh160 billion annually where more than 90 per cent of edible oils are imported for local use.

According to data from the Agricultural and Food Authority, the country’s import bill for edible oils has been increasing at an annual rate of 15 per cent occasioned by high demand locally.