Nakuru is slowly regaining its lost glory as an industrial hub, following the commissioning of a Sh1.2 billion animal feeds factory.
The factory, which was opened by Trade, Industry and Cooperatives Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya on Wednesday, had been under construction for a year.
It is owned through a partnership between Bidco Africa and Land O’Lakes, a US farmers’ cooperative and manufacturer of animal nutrition products. Land O’Lakes Executive Vice President Dave Hoogmoed said they picked Kenya because of the growth of its agricultural sector.
“After our research, we found that Kenya is among the leading countries in agriculture through the commercialisation of the sector. Here we have seen great opportunities, especially in the dairy sector whose returns are growing by the day,” said Hoogmoed during the launch.
He said the new entity - Bidco Land O’Lakes - would contribute to the State’s Big Four agenda under the manufacturing pillar.
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“In line with the Big Four agenda, this is a boost for the manufacturing pillar of the government that will create thousands of jobs directly and indirectly,” said Hoogmoed.
Bidco Africa Group Chairman Vimal Shah said the factory, which can produce 160,000 tonnes of animal feeds annually, will engage over 60,000 farmers in the next one year.
“We are beginning with between 30,000 farmers and hope to double the number in the next 12 months. Farmers shall be supplying us with raw materials, which include sunflower, maize, soya beans, among others,” Shah said.
“With quality animal feeds, farmers are assured of increased yields. This will make agriculture a more attractive and profitable venture.” He said the opening up of the region offers them a ready market, noting that the quality of products remains a concern.
“We have a ready market in Kenya and beyond. We are committed to ensuring quality is competitive from the farms and throughout the supply chain,” Shah said.
CS Munya urged farmers to invest in value addition, saying it would ensure better pay for their produce.
He said the government would create more trade links with other countries to make it easy for the local producers to exploit external markets.
“This will be a major boost for Nakuru, which will soon be elevated to a city. Jobs have been created and a market for products from this agricultural-rich region is now available. This investment will bring a huge difference in the life of farmers and the workforce,” said Munya. He said the main challenge in the dairy sector remains in the quality of feeds.