Trans Nzoia eyes Sh500m industrial park to boost agriculture

When Members of Parliamentary Committee on Trade, Industry and Co-operatives toured the stalled construction of Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Naivasha. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]

Trans Nzoia County has set aside Sh500 million for the establishment of an aggregation centre and industrial park in a bid to revitalise the agricultural sector. 

The park will be built on a 100-acre parcel of land in the Endebess Constituency, which has been hived off by the Agricultural Development Corporation (ADC) - Namandala.

The ambitious project, which is set to be co-funded by the national government and the county, has received a major boost from President William Ruto, who directed the ADC to provide the land for the facility.

President Ruto pledged Sh250 million towards the project, and Governor George Natembeya announced that the county government would match that amount, bringing the total funding to Sh500 million.

Natembeya expressed his optimism about the project, stating that it would transform the agricultural landscape in Trans Nzoia.

He emphasised that the establishment of County Agro-Industrial Parks (CAIPs) would provide farmers with a centralised platform to aggregate their produce and connect with markets directly, thereby eliminating middlemen and their exploitative practices.

The governor lamented the prevalence of cartels in the agricultural sector, who manipulate market prices and deceive farmers about the quality and availability of markets.

With the introduction of the agro-industrial park, Natembeya asserted that these cartels would be marginalized, allowing farmers to secure fair prices and reap better rewards from their hard work.

Trans Nzoia County boasts extensive agricultural land, favourable climatic conditions, and fertile alluvial soils, earning it the reputation of being the country's food basket.

However, various challenges such as climate change, infestation by pests and disease, high production costs and cartels have led to a decline in agricultural productivity.

Many farmers have abandoned their agricultural pursuits in favour of more lucrative ventures, including investments in Real Estate, with only a handful of farmers sustaining production, resulting in significant food deficits.

The cost of production per acre at the same time has gone up, with farmers incurring up to Sh50,000 to cultivate an acre of maize up to harvesting.

The governor welcomed investors in the agricultural sector.

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