Migori County farmers who abandoned tobacco farming four years and have been struggling to find their new cash crops are set to grow sunflower and soya bean as their new money minting venture.
According to Kenya Tobacco Growers Association, over 10,000 farmers were growing tobacco in the county before the exit of Alliance One Tobacco Company four years ago leaving the farmers with no clear future. The company which was the biggest leaf buyer in the county moved to Uganda and Zimbabwe two years ago, citing poor leaf quality in Kenya.
However, two prominent companies, Bidco and Safaricom have struck a deal with the County Government of Migori to help the farmers engage in sunflower and soya bean production.
The County executive for agriculture Isca Oluoch said the new venture will be of great benefit to the farmers.
“Farmers used to plant tobacco in large and small scale but after the fall of the sector most have been looking for alternative cash crops,” Oluoch said on Thursday when she received officers from Bidco Kenya and Safaricom Ltd, who have since contracted 750 farmers in Suna West and Nyatike sub-counties.
She said the profits of the two products is better than what farmers got in tobacco and that the county, will also seek to have the production of the two crops rolled out in Kuria East and Kuria West sub-counties where farmers were also affected by collapse of tobacco farming.
According to the new collaboration, Safaricom, through its initiative dubbed Digi-farm, will provide technical support such as the provision of quality fertilizer, seeds and other farming inputs to increase productivity.
The Telco giant will also offer training and updates to farmers through short messages.
“We will pay farmers on the spot after delivering their products to Bidco. We are interested in ensuring the farmer is able to make money from farming,” said Elizabeth Mudogo, an officer from Safaricom’s M-agriculture department.
Bidco has also pledged to provide a ready market for the produce to allow farmers produce raw material for a range of her edible oils, soaps and other household products. The firm has been forced to import part of the products.
The Bidco’s Programme Officer, John Kariuki said the partnership will also offer farmers insurance on their crops in case of drought or other catastrophe.
Soya bean plants.