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Gov’t donates coconut seedlings in bid to revamp production in Coast region

In marking the National Coconut Week, the national government through the Agriculture and Food Authority, and Commodities Fund has provided over 43,000 Coconut seedlings to farmers in the region to improve its production in the coastal counties.

The seedlings provision is a response by the government to the reduced coconut tree population and the existing room for expansion within the Coast region.

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Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Mithika Linturi while presiding over the launch of National Coconut Week in Kilifi noted that reduced Coconut tree populations have translated to low production, leading to reduced household incomes.

“We need to work together to plant more coconut trees and maximize its production to meet this varied product demand which extends from the leaves, the flower, tender nuts through to the mature nuts”, Linturi said.

He recognized that the coconut value chain is one of the key agricultural subsections in the coastal region and supports an estimated 1 million people due to its effective forward and backward linkages.

The CS called upon state departments and agencies, county government, research institutions, and coconut farmers to make deliberate efforts to improve the production of coconut for both local consumption and export purposes.

“I urge the county governments to ensure sustainability in the supply of quality coconut planting materials and the delivery of extension services towards increasing productivity from the annual lows of 30 nuts per tree to highs of 150 nuts per tree”, he added.

Kilifi North Member of Parliament Owen Baya revealed that in support of coconut farming, the government will allocate enough funds in the next financial year’s budget to make sure that coconut farming is given priority in the country.

While pointing out the shortcomings of the current Oil and Nuts Authority is supporting coconut farming, the MP stated that he has proposed a new bill in the National Assembly for the formation of a Coconut and Cashewnut Authority.

“When the Oil and Nuts Authority funds come in, very little is put into the production of coconuts. So I have suggested that we do away with that Directorate and form an Authority that will better look after the interests of coconut and cashew plants”, Baya explained.

Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) representative Calistus Kundu informed that the authority will hold a conference for the next two days in Kilifi to further discuss how to improve coconut production across all 6 coastal counties.

“We shall also work together to plant the seedlings that have been provided today from the 20th to the 26th of this month to ensure that none of the seedlings will be left out”, he added.

Kilifi Agriculture and Crops Chief Officer Teddy Yawa boasted of the county’s leading status in the production of coconuts in the coastal region adding that the county government has been working hard to ensure the plant is given a priority.

“According to 2019 statistics we are the ones leading in the production of coconut plants. 52 percent of the entire coconut tree population is in Kilifi”, Yawa stated.

Speaking on behalf of coconut farmers, James Katana highlighted that they face a great challenge of diseases and pests attacking coconut trees in their farms and called on the government’s intervention in providing a lasting solution to the problem.

“We are also asking the government to provide us with modern, improved hybrid coconut seedlings because the ones that we currently receive have lost value and are currently doing very poorly in this region” Katana added.

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