ELDORET: Counties within the North Rift Economic Bloc (Noreb) will exploit the East African Community (EAC) privileges to export cash crops. Last year, the region’s eight counties — Uasin Gishu, Elgeyo Marakwet, Trans Nzoia, Baringo, Turkana, West Pokot, Nandi and Samburu — signed a pact to unite and exploit common resources and investment opportunities.
Noreb Chairperson and Uasin Gishu Governor Jackson Mandago said a caucus is currently finalising a framework to provide guidelines on how the counties will produce and export produce to the East African (EA) market.
“Noreb is a success story on how devolution stands to benefit counties and become a gateway to East Africa. We are looking forward to reaping from exporting produce such as coffee, tea and fruits,” said Mandago
Speaking at the Trans Nzoia investment conference, the Uasin Gishu governor said most member counties have opted to plant short term crops as they eye markets in neigbouring countries.
“In Uasin Gishu, farmers are producing passion fruits, mangoes and avocado. Trans Nzoia is conducive for coffee and tea. Investors have an opportunity to set up a factory in the region so we can maximise on processing and packaging,” he said.
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He said member counties will collaborate with each other to get quality end products instead of only producing raw materials.
Governor Patrick Khaemba of Trans Nzoia underscored the strategic location of Noreb, which can be accessed through the Eldoret International Airport, the Great Northern Highway and the Standard Gauge Railway.
This, he said, gives the region a vantage point to access the East African market and beyond.
“There are immense opportunities in agricultural production that have not been fully exploited and as Noreb, we are focused on boosting the region’s economy,” said Khaemba.
But even as the governors eye the East African market, their county assemblies are still awaiting the necessary policies to drive the economic bloc agenda from their executives.
Most county assemblies expressed concern over the time limit, saying the executive should expedite provision of such laws so they can be put in place before the next budget cycle.
Elgeyo Marakwet county assembly leader of minority Benson Kiptire said they will not be coerced by the executive to set up funds towards the bloc without proper legislation in place.
“It is prudent that even as they work towards revolutionising economic developments in the region, strong policies are in place,” he said.