By Cheki abuje
The community- based driven organizations in the food chain industry have urged county governments to support their programmes aimed at improving livelihoods.
Speaking in Busia county on the progress of Non-state actors in empowering local communities against vulnerability to poverty and food self-reliance, Catherine Amusugtu, the value chain Manager in-charge at Tangakona Commercial Village said the value chain industry needs both social and political goodwill at the county level to fully realize its short and long term objectives.
Catherine pointed out that if the county government of Busia can support her local organization materially and immaterially, the commercial village can revolutionize the County’s food security situations and improve the nutritional value of food taken.
The remarks come at a time when the agricultural sector in Kenya is shifting its focus from subsistence Agriculture to Agri-business through chain processes, for income maximization as well as improved nutrition.
She called on local farmers and consumers of agricultural products at house hold level to advocate for value-added products in their day day-today consumption.
Amusugtu disclosed that she has embarked on products such as cassava chips, crackis, cakes, crisps and high quality flour to improve the product taste and nutrition. The products are from cassava and orange fleshed potatoes. At the same time, she challenged Kenyans to plant staple foods like cassava, millet and potatoes that are climate change resistant crops.
The commercial village vice chairman Samson Kandira, however, expressed satisfaction with the strides the group has achieved, adding that there still exist challenges to be addressed.
He noted that his local Community Based Organization has an average of 30 acres under potato plantations and more than 20 acres of cassava, adding that Tangakona commercial village is the only one accredited by Kenya agricultural and livestock organization (KARLO) to supply certified cassava and potato planting materials in western Kenya, where a 50kg bag of both potato and cassava cutting sell at Kshs.500.
The organization has urged the County government of Busia and donors to support their projects financially to address the challenges facing them.
Said kadira ”Our main market for potato and cassava cuttings in Busia county are PALWECO, Red Cross and One Acre Fund”. He added that their annual turn- over is promising a prosperous future in the industry.
The value addition expert maintains that the agricultural sector in Kenya is rapidly growing as a result of paradigm shift towards food chain value addition.
The stakeholders however point out that among the challenges they face include; establishment of cottage industry that will enable farmers venture fully into value addition for local and foreign market.
The project will cost Kshs.16million. The upcoming sugar factories in Busia are also threatening food security in the county as most farmers are shifting focus to sugarcane farming.
Unstable market and lack of modern facilities to handle value chain processes, from production to processing to final product, remains a challenge for the commercial village to expand its boundaries to the benefit of local population.
The project, through partnership with Kenya agricultural & livestock Research Organization, Farm Concern International, Ministry of Agriculture, techno-serve and international potato centre, has supported more than 5,000 farmers/locals directly and indirectly since 2011.