Farmers from Khwisero and Emuhaya in Kakamega and Vihiga counties have benefited from 3,000 certified Tissue Culture Banana plantlets in a campaign to enhance food production.
The 4,00 farmers received the plantlets at Mundaha village in Khwisero sub-county courtesy of Sustainable Organic Farming Development Initiatives (SOF-DI), a non-governmental organisation promoting agriculture in Western.
Beneficiaries had earlier been taken through a two week rigorous training in appropriate planting and management practices of the Tissue Culture Banana by experts from Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) and extension officers working with SOF-DI.
To ensure the farmers realise economic gains from the crop, experts advised that each one of them plant at least 250 plantlets on one acre of land.
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“We are ready to continue working with SOF-DI and other farmers in promoting TCB in both counties until they become self-sufficient in food production,” said Chris Bulemi from Kalro Kakamega Centre during the occasion last week.
“As a research organisation, we have not been able to generate Tissue Culture Banana plantlets and rely on Jomo Kenyatta University, Thika Kalro and Mimea International for the supply of quality suckers we distribute to farmers,” he said.
Mr Martin Kumbe, in charge of programmes at SOF-DI, said the seedlings were sourced from Mimea International, Kitengela in Nairobi. “The suckers are certified and high yielding and we hope farmers will take banana farming seriously,” he said.
He said SOF-DI had invited experts and Ministry of Agriculture officers to train the farmers in appropriate planting and management practices of the Tissue Culture Bananas to guarantee sustainability of the project.
He said the organisation had put in place structures to ensure proper monitoring and evaluation of the crop management by the beneficiaries. The function was attended by agriculture extension officers from both counties. The officers challenged farmers to form a cooperative that will guarantee them a ready market for their produce.
Khwisero sub-county agribusiness officer John Manyasa said a multi-million shilling banana processing factory in the area will benefit from the initiative.
“The project will ensure we have enough raw materials for the plant as well as guarantee farmers reliable source of income,” Manyasa said.
He said the processing plant will be making banana crips, chips, floor and other products for outside markets. “The factory is ready for the take-off and farmers must strive to keep the plant afloat.”
Mr Manyasa told farmers to observe recommended management practices and sell their produce in organised groups to Khwisero Banana processing plant once it is commissioned.
The processing plant is an initiative of the government under the special programmes and has received a major boost from the county government of Kakamega.