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    Kenyan farmers who join cooperative societies such as Ortum farmers’ cooperative society, to market their produce are more likely to double or triple their income due to improved bargaining power.

    David Roron, an onion farmer in West Pokot County for instance, has increased his earnings from Sh120, 000 to Sh350, 000 per acre per season after joining the Ortum farmers’ cooperative society in 2014. Initially, bulb onions were not grown for commercial purposes in the region and prospective farmers depended on relief food as maize production was too low to sustain the families.

    However, the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project moved in to empower farmers in the area in 2015 enabling Roron and 1339 other farmers to jointly form a cooperative to market their produce. Since then, farmers have been educated on the best farming practices allowing them to increase production from four tonnes to eight tonnes of onions per acre. Joint marketing efforts have also helped the farmers improve their bargaining power earning Sh50 per kilo of onions up from Sh20.

    Related News: Makueni mango farmer raises income through cooperative

    Related News: 25 cooperatives behind Nyeri County milk boom

    Farmers offloading milk at Kabiyet Dairies Company Ltd , a cooperative society owned by farmers in Nandi North

    In Nandi, Cyrus Kitur, a dairy farmer has increased his milk production from eight liters in 2016 to 32 liters per day in 2017 from his two cows after joining Kabiyet dairies cooperative society. Through the society he was to learn of silage making technologies which assured him of enough feed for his cows every season. His income thus rose from an average of Sh240 per day to Sh960 after selling the milk through the cooperative.

    In this, cooperative societies play an important role in reducing poverty levels, improving food security and generating employment opportunities.

    According to a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, cooperatives provide over 100m jobs worldwide with more than one billion members.

    Cooperatives are associations of people who unite voluntarily to meet their common economic needs via a joint enterprise that enables them improve bargaining power.

    Agricultural cooperatives play an important role in supporting small agricultural producers and marginalized groups such as young people and women. They empower their members economically and socially and create sustainable rural employment through business models that are resilient to economic and environmental shocks.

    Related News: Cooperative insurer launches new project to cover over 250,000 Kenyan farmers with livestock microinsurance

    In Kenya, cooperative societies have employed more than 300,000 people in the various sectors dominantly in the agricultural industry. The societies turnover in 2017 was Sh436bn representing 45 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) according to data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.

    “Cooperatives offer small agricultural producers opportunities and a wide range of services, including improved access to markets, natural resources, information, communications, technologies, credit, training and warehouses,” said Thomas Nyamongo, an agricultural extension Officer at the ministry of agriculture.

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    Baobab Fruit

    By George Munene

    Over 800 farmers in Ganze constituency, Kilifi County are unlocking and benefiting from mabuyu/baobab tree’s great potential by adding value to its fruit, using it to make cooking and cosmetic oils as well as baking flour.

    The Sh5 million United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded project has helped them acquire a specialised machine that sorts out the fruit’s powder from its seed. It further processes them separately adding value to each one.

    The project process over 700 kilograms of mibuyu daily.

    Related News: Amisha saw the limitless potential in the superfruit that is baobab (mabuyu), and she is doing a good job selling its health benefits to the world

    “The seeds are pressed to make bath oils, skin oils, massage oils, and skin lotions. We use the powder in making jams, juices, ice cream sobres and chilli sauces,” explained a project member.

    Previously, the community only used mibuyu powder as a source of food and its leaves as a stew dish as well as a mosquito repellent.  

    However, the project which is run in Kaya Kauma forest faces a hinderance in its scaling up as mibuyu trees take up to 50 years to begin fruiting. Due to unchecked logging only 100 baobabs remain in the sacred forest.

    Related News: Baobab among first orphaned crops to undergo genetic mapping

    Related News: Soaring demand for bixa by local hotels excites coastal farmers

    “Kenyan agriculture research institutions need to invest in developing faster maturing mabuyu trees which will be a big help for our community as the tree has two harvesting seasons,”said a Ganze resident.

    Mibuyu trees are largely grown in Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal strip. They are often sites for prayer and carrying out traditional rites amongst the Mijikenda. 

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    49859907217 53e2e5b861 b

    By George Munene

    The expected entry of Tanzanian onions into the Kenyan market is leading to a mass sell-off of stored onions by local growers. This has seen prices fall 12 per cent in the past month.

    “Kenyan farmers and wholesalers had been hoarding onions creating an artificial shortage in markets. 

    It was a seller's market with brokers futilely trying to push down onion farm gate prices and prices had been anticipated to hit the Sh100 mark by the end of May, ” said Joshua Mamwaka, a wholesaler at Nairobi's Marikiti market.

    However, it's now a race against time for onion farmers as they try to beat the flooding of Tanzanian onions into the market.

    Related News: Flooding of Ethiopian tomatoes drops prices 40%, onions on the rise

    Tanzanian onions are prized by Kenyan traders as they are often well dried and cured.

    White onions have however been amongst the best market performers holding steady at Sh100.

    Potatoes are down about 30 percent as are French beans owing to market oversupply. Green capsicums are also down 25 per cent. 

    Imported garlic has also been a marked underperformer, falling 15 per cent. Local garlic has however held its price. 

    In a spot check of Nairobi’s Muthurwa and Wakulima markets, tomato oversupply caused by both local growers and the entry of Ethiopian tomatoes has seen wholesale prices remain relatively stagnant at Sh6,000 for a 100-kilogram turbo box. 

    Related News: Rising wheat prices provides market opportunities for tuber farmers 

    Related News: Poultry farmers seek feed alternatives as prices soar

    According to data from the Kenya Agricultural Market Information System (KAMIS) the wholesale price of dry maize is highest in Nairobi's Nyamakima at Sh106 with the retail price at Sh123.33. Wholesale prices were lowest in Kajiado at Sh38.

    Average retail tilapia prices are down by Sh50 from a week ago to Sh510/kg on Thursday this week. Retail beef prices have held an average price of Sh466.37 through the week.

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