Maize farmers from Lugari sub-county are a happy lot landing a market for their produce.
The World Food Programme (WFP) started buying maize from the farmers yesterday at Sh3, 000 per 90 kilograms bag.
So far, WFP has bought 2, 200 bags of maize that had been stored by farmers at Majengo cereals warehouse according to Majengo farmers’ Cooperative Society chairperson Alice Adage.
According to Ms Adage, the maize bought met required international standards as stipulated by the world food body.
Speaking when he officially flagged off the selling and buying of the maize yesterday, Kakamega County Executive officer in charge of Agriculture Geoffrey Omulayi told farmers to join cooperative societies to help enhance their bargaining power for their produce at local and international markets.
According to Omulayi, cooperative societies cushion farmers from exploitation by middlemen and help keep at bay brokers who take advantage of farmers by buying their produce at low prices.
Omulayi said it was encouraging that the first batch of maize produced and stored by local farmers has attracted the international market.
“It encourages that WFP could come all the way to buy maize from cereal stores managed by local farmers, it means you followed recommended post-harvest practices and maintained high standards at planting and harvesting,” said the official.
He said the farmers and the county government do not take the feat for granted “because WFP is offered good prices compared to the middlemen and brokers,” said the county agriculture chief.
Omulayi challenged farmers to keep up the production standards in order to have quality produce that would fetch them maximum profits both locally and internationally.
“International market has now been opened to our farmers here in Lugari and Kakamega county at large therefore quality produce would be needed for export, the future is bright for the grain farmers.”
Omulayi called for proper management of the farmers cooperative societies in the area arguing that good leadership will see steady growth of the cooperatives and empowerment of the farmers.
“That is we shall be able to combat poverty and help the county become self-reliant in terms of food production. Proper leadership brings about accountability and transparency in the cooperative movement that is a key driver in our economy,” he noted.
Ms Adage said Majengo farmers cooperative society has the potential to expand its activities across the county.
She promised that the society will continue working closely with international organisations including WFP in addressing the problem of market access that has remained a major challenge to the farmers.