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Refugees to benefit from groundnut project

Residents of Turkana harvest groundnuts during trials of the crop in Turkana County. [Courtesy]

Refugees in Turkana County will benefit from a groundnut project. The project dubbed Refugee Agricultural Value Chains for Economic Self Reliance (RAVES) is funded by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).

The four-year project funded by the IKEA Foundation at Sh150 million identified the groundnut value chain as a potential crop for sustainable income generation as well as nutrition security.

“Agriculture is undoubtedly the key driver in transforming the lives and livelihoods of refugee and host communities in Turkana County. We are honoured to begin this initiative to create a viable agribusiness initiative that is demand driven,” said FAO Representative to Kenya Carla Mucavi during the virtual launch.

The project will be implemented in close collaboration with Turkana County Government, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), INSTA Products Ltd, World Food Programme (WFP), Egerton University, and International Finance Corporation.

“We care about supporting entire communities to build sustainable lives, and this integrated approach ensures this,” said Annemieke de Jong from IKEA Foundation.

The first seed trials conducted in partnership with Egerton University in early 2020 revealed that Turkana is excellent for groundnut production because it is virgin farm lands. 

The ongoing second seeds trials show that it is possible to produce two tonnes of groundnuts per hectare.

In addition to this, groundnuts are relatively drought tolerant, have a longer shelf life than fresh vegetables and are in high demand.

Dhiren Chandaria of INSTA Products says they are involved in manufacturing ready-to-eat therapeutic foods. 

“We make a product for severely malnourished children. Therefore the obligation is on us to provide the best quality product. Our laboratories have shown that these are good quality groundnuts, with 0.0 ppb aflatoxin levels and a 30 per cent protein level,” said Chandaria.

The project targets refugee and host communities within the irrigation schemes.

The project will be implemented in Turkana West with a focus on Kalobeyei refugee settlement, Lomidat, Nanyee, Kangalita and Nadoto Irrigation schemes.

The project will benefit 9,000 direct beneficiaries, with a gross farmer income of over Sh 250 million by year four. The target is to produce 12,000 tonnes of groundnuts per year by the end of the project period.

As part of the project, the design of a 50,000 cubic metres water pan to support groundnut production in Kalobeyei has started with WFP finalising the construction of two water pans in the same area for irrigation.

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