Farmers in Nyamira and Bomet counties are benefiting from connection to clean planting materials and ready markets for crops such as passion fruits and avocado thanks to the Agriculture and Food Authority which is tasked to sustainably develop and promote scheduled crops value chains through effective regulation for economic growth.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, over one billion tonnes of food which constitutes about 70 per cent of fresh farm produce rots on the farm before it reaches consumers due to lack of ready markets. The continent, thus, is still a huge importer of food although it has 60 per cent of the world’s uncultivated arable land.
Before farmers plant crops in the two counties, AFA advises them on market availability so as to ensure that they sell their produce when harvested without incurring post-harvest losses. In this, directorate connects farmers with certified seed merchants such as the Kenya Seed in Bomet town as well as buyers of the produce.
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The authority also offers crops experts who work hand in hand with farmers from the initial crop production stage to harvesting and marketing.
“At AFA, we encourage contract farming whereby we act as witnesses between farmers and buyers of the produce, we have so far connected more than 100 farmers to Mara farm and DianaKim , the companies that buy avocadoes and passion fruits respectively,” said Lorine Ochari, the station manager of the Horticulture and Crops Directorate in Nyamira County.
“Initially farmers in the region relied on uncertified seeds to grow their crops, but since AFA chipped in 2016, farmers in the region have reported increased yields of up to 75 per cent,”
According to Ochari, farmers in the region are now embracing horticulture which is the fastest growing agricultural subsector in the country ranked third in foreign exchange earnings after tourism and tea.
The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics report of 2016 revealed that the sub-sector earned Kenya Sh101.5bn and employs two million Kenyans.
Lorine Ochari can be reached on +25427018048