There is hope for cashew nuts farmers in Coastal region after the European Union pumped in resources and funds amounting to over Ksh. 240 million to revive the sector that collapsed more than three decades ago.
The Coast region was the leading producer of cashew nuts until the early 90s when the industry collapsed leaving thousands of farmers in devastating state.
Majority of the cashew nuts trees were cut down by the farmers who opted for an alternative crop for survival.
In the four year program European Union provided funds to Ten Senses a Kenyan based agricultural company to provide over 1 million seedlings this year alone under the program which will take four years to farmers in Kilifi, Lamu and Kwale counties.
The County government of Kilifi has also committed itself to plant five million trees in the entire county beginning next week.
Head of European Union in Kenya Stefano Dejack said the project will address the hardships faced by the over 100,000 farmers after the collapse of the Cashew nut factory in Kilifi.
Speaking in Kilifi on Tuesday during the launch of the program at Eza Moyo village in Kilifi he said they partnered with member states Czeck republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia who to ensure the project is successful.
Slovakia would be in charge of marketing the Cashew nut products from the region while Hungary will deal with processing.
On the other hand Czech and Poland would majorly deal with technical part and equipment which will be set up in Kilifi.
“Fifteen thousand farmers will be involved in the project meant to create job opportunities and provide young population with ideas to think of Agriculture, all farmers will be paid through Mpesa,’’ he said.
He said they were working on the certification to ensure they produce organic cashew nuts which would add 20 percent more value and shall be able to be sold at a higher price.
Already he said there were investors who would establish the processing plant in Kilifi County.
Mikios Kis the State Secretary of the Ministry of Hungary who was also present said locals would get loans and jobs.
Frank Omondi the Managing Director of ten senses a social enterprise said they seeds which would be provided will mature in three years as opposed to the old ones which used to take up to 10 years to mature.
“The product will be exported to Europe, we have partnered with Farm Africa A Non-Governmental organization that will be supplying seeds to women groups and youths,’’ he said
Omondi said they require over 4000 metric tonnes per month adding that they would be selling the seedlings at Sh. 50 to farmers.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi said in one weeks’ time the County department of Agriculture will begin supplying seedlings.
He said in the 80s Cashew nuts farming was the key pillar but collapsed and thanked the EU for coming in to revive the sector.
“Today we are opening a new page reviving the first pillar of economy thank you for putting up together the project, the success of the project depends on the locals,’’ he said.