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    By George Munene

    Former tobacco farmers in Migori county are shifting to planting high-iron beans under the World Health Organization (WHO) Tobacco-Free Farms project that provides a ready market for their harvest, inputs in seeds and fertilizers as well as farmer training.

    Farmer groups participating in the project have thus far sold 135 metric tons of beans to the World Food Programme (WFP), giving them significantly more earnings than they would have gotten from tobacco farming.

    The program helps empower the farmers by providing them with long-term markets for food crops allowing them to end contractual tobacco-growing agreements. 

    The alternative crops grown will also help feed their communities instead of harming their health.

    Related News: Nyamira women get indigenous vegetable market through UN program

    Related News: 25 Muranga farmers earn Sh20m a year from French beans through group export contract

    “Tobacco growing farmers must be given the necessary support to switch to alternative crops that have the potential to improve their health and livelihoods as well as reduce the supply of tobacco,” says Dr. Juliet Nabyonga, WHO’s Representative to Kenya. “It’s projects like this that move the needle in the fight against the global tobacco epidemic.”

    According to the UN the initiative which also incorporates the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP), and the Kenyan government has seen hundreds of long-time tobacco farmers switch to alternative crops, plant high-iron beans in fields where only tobacco grew. This has seen farmers' health improve, increased school attendance from children previously working on the farms, and better crops for the environment replacing tobacco.

    Related News: Trans Nzoia farmer ditches maize for French beans, earns more in export market

    Kenya is the project’s pilot country, chosen for its continued mobilised efforts to fight the scourge of tobacco.

    WHO statistics show that over 6,000 Kenyans die of tobacco-related diseases every year. This number stands at eight million globally every year, with over one million of the deaths caused by second-hand smoke. 

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    By George Munene

    Kakuzi PLC has secured a permit from the Kenya Health Inspectorate Service (KEPHIS) to process export-grade fresh avocados for the Chinese market.

    The move is expected to benefit smallholder farmers supplying avocadoes to the publicly traded company as it will open up China’s mammoth $133 million avocado market.

    The approval followed an extensive phytosanitary audit of the firm's farms and packhouses by KEPHIS. 

    Despite president Kenyatta reaching an MOU with China for the export of avocados in April 2019, Kenyan imports had been barred into the East Asia nation until February this year due to heavy fruit fly infestation.

    Related News: Hass avocado earn farmers premium in international markets

    Related News: Kakuzi commits Sh400M on upscaling smallholder avocado farmers

    At the start of the year, the two nations concluded negotiations and put pen to paper on two protocols facilitating bilateral trade focused on avocado and aquatic products export to China.

    The trade deal is expected to fast track penetration of agricultural products into the Chinese market and reduce Kenya’s trade deficit with her main trading partner.

    China had initially set arduous and costly requirements for Kenyan exporters. They had to freeze the fruits to -30°C, peel off the skin, before further chilling to -18°C for shipping. 

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    Mace foods

    By George .P. Munene

    The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) project “AgrInvest - Enabling inclusive and efficient private sector investment in agri-food systems” (AgrInvest-FS), in Kenya is supporting the Nyamira North Women SACCO, a women-led Savings and Credit Cooperative Organization (SACCO) to grow and sell indigenous vegetables to, Mace Foods, a private food enterprise.

    Since the partnership was officialized, Nyamira North Women SACCO has delivered 500 kg of products weekly worth Sh1M. Other indigenous vegetables outside the contract valued at Sh220,800 have also been sold to the buyer to plug in shortages by Mace Foods’ usual suppliers.

    Related News: Farmer capitalises on growing demand & premium prices for traditional crops

    Related News: UK couple capitalise on Kenyan diaspora demand for traditional vegetables

    The UN agency is helping the SACCO establish formal contractual arrangements with the processing company in an effort to unlock sustainable investments in the African indigenous vegetable value chain improving food and nutrition security and creating rural employment.

    Mace Foods is an Eldoret-based company that works with over 5,600 contract small-scale farmers sourcing indigenous vegetables and chillis, dehydrates, and packs them for sale for both local and international markets.

    The program further seeks to support the SACCO to gather funds to purchase cold storage facilities and through working with the government of Nyamira County seeks to ensure the women employ proper agronomic practices such as timely planting and harvesting as well as pest management. 

    Related News: Siaya group excel in collective marketing of traditional vegetables

    Other countries targeted by the AgrInvest program include Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, and Niger. 

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