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Kilifi coconut farmers set to benefit from coconut boost

By Patrick Beja | August 2nd 2019
By Patrick Beja | August 2nd 2019

The County government has come up with an ambitious plan to revamp the coconut sub-sector.

Agriculture Executive Luciana Sanzua yesterday said the administration intends to set up a Sh226 million processing plant in Mtwapa.

“Once operational, we will be in direct contact with coconut farmers and ensure we eliminate brokers who have long taken advantage of our farmers by buying nuts at throwaway prices,” said Ms Sanzua.

The executive said because of exploitation, farmers had abandoning the crop in favour of other more profitable ventures.

The county has embarked on a campaign to start replanting coconut trees to ensure there is a steady supply of nuts once the plant starts operating.

This is being done through the World Bank-funded National Agriculture and Rural Inclusive Growth Project, which will also benefit dairy and poultry farmers as well as bee keepers in Kilifi.

The coconut factory will be constructed at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, where the county has more than 150 acres. It will be managed by a palm wine cooperative and a private investor, with the county government playing an oversight role.

Sanzua said once completed, the plant would have the capacity to process 300,000 litres of palm wine into sugar, vinegar and ethanol.

“Lately, we have technology that looks at ethanol as an alternative source of domestic fuel. We are in talks with Giraffe International, who want to be supplying jikos that use ethanol. Locals will run away from charcoal, thereby conserving our environment.”

This year the county imported 3,000 hybrid nuts. The new variety, commonly known as the “sleeping giant sub-sector”, is a cross between the tall and short coconut varieties.

Director of Agriculture Margaret Jefwa said she was optimistic the high-yielding and fast-maturing coconut would be a game changer in the coconut industry.

Mrs Jefwa spoke at the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation facility in Matuga, where the seedlings are being quarantined. The hybrid tree is projected to produce more than 300 nuts annually.

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