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Changing fortunes as project gets Sh29m shot in the arm

NEWS
By Grace Wekesa | Feb 3rd 2014 | 3 min read
By Grace Wekesa | February 3rd 2014
NEWS
          A farmer tending her crops. Small-scale farmers in Kakamega County are to be trained in various farming activities including dairy, banana, poultry and fishing.

By Grace Wekesa

A World Bank funded initiative, the Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agri-Business Project (KAPAP), has received a total of Sh29 million to help small-scale farmers in Kakamega County upscale agricultural production.

According to Mr John Manyengo, a local co-ordinator, Sh10 million will be spent on training farmers in different value chain projects and Sh19 million to form co-operative societies for each value chain.

Speaking yesterday in Kakamega after a two-day participatory contract workshop, he affirmed that Sh10 million is an increment of the Sh7.5 million his office received last year for phase one of the project.

“It is the first time the project has received funds for formation of co-operative societies to enable farmers to work in organised groups, buy farm in-puts and sell produce in bulk as opposed to working individually,’’ he stated.

Manyengo observed that the disbursement of funds in phase two of the project comes at a time when the county is trailing others in implementation of the project meant to create wealth and reduce poverty in the country.

During the workshop, it was revealed that Nyandarua County leads in high agricultural potential followed by Siaya while Kakamega despite having rain and fertile soil was behind Garissa County.

Manyengo noted that local farmers can do better if they embraced entrepreneurship culture, which they lack at the moment. “The cash received by the organisation is used to train farmers in various farming activities which include dairy, banana, poultry and fish farming,” he said.

Phase one of the project covered 2006-2008 and phase two covers 2010-2014. The aim of the project is to create wealth and reduce poverty in the area among small-scale farmers.

Reducing poverty

He stressed that the wealth created in the first phase was too little to meet Kapap’s targets of reducing poverty when compared with what Kakamega can generate from its high economic potential.

Kakamega County has a population of over one million people and a poverty rate of 60 per cent according to the by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

“The issue is worrying because Kakamega is a high potential area and therefore should perform better in wealth creation to reduce poverty and improve the county’s economy,’’ he asserted.

According to the project’s co-ordinator, the poor performance in wealth creation in Kakamega was due to among other factors, lack of entrepreneurship culture of residents. Manyengo identified other factors as dependence syndrome, poor marketing and lack of cohesion among group members who choose to work individually instead of groups. Kenya Agricultural Productivity and Agribusiness Project is phase II of the 12 years Adaptable Programme Loan (APL) supported by the World Bank, being implemented in three phases.

The programme design hinges on the premise that separate and poorly linked systems of research and extension yield low returns.

The design therefore envisages an integrated approach in order to synchronise research, extension and farmer empowerment and other stakeholders initiatives.

The support provided under phase I of the APL facilitated the review and formulation of a National Agricultural Sector Extension Policy and its implementation framework, a National Livestock and Dairy Policy, a draft National Agricultural Research System policy, as well as implementation of reforms in the coffee sub-sector.

According to a World Bank abstract, the development objective of the project for Kenya is to increase agricultural productivity and incomes of participating smallholder farmers in the project area.

County level

This level two restructuring will encompass partial cancellation of credit, reallocation of proceeds and changes in activities to be supported under the four project components.

“Minor changes in institutional arrangements at county level will also be made to align the project with the new devolved government structures,” it says.

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