Kirinyaga Governor Anne Waiguru has issued a cheque worth Ksh. 42.54 million to farmers groups engaged in various agricultural value chain projects.
The money will be shared among 204 groups to enable them increase production and productivity for food security and poverty reduction.
While issuing the cheques, Waiguru said the funding under Wezesha Kirinyaga program will support farmers engaged in nine agriculture value chains among them; Dairy, avocado, tomato, chicks, bee keeping, dairy goats, fish, pig rearing and egg hatching.
The governor also launched 20 ward based multi-value chain farmers Savings and Credit Cooperatives (Saccos) which she said are key to unlocking smallholder farmers potential.
The Saccos will provide members with affordable operational capital and savings and credit services, information on markets, and production practices.
Waiguru said the initiatives are aimed at strategically positioning the farmer to be the number one suppliers of raw materials for upcoming processing industries in the Sagana Industrial Park.
“Greater productivity can boost farmers’ income, especially for smallholder farmers, who have limited resources to leverage on growing and marketing their produce. Increasing productivity in agriculture is also critical to reducing poverty,” the governor said.
The Council of Governors (COG) Chair said cooperatives are an important vehicle that enables farmers to pool financial and technical resources thus spreading their costs and drawing from the collective members’ experiences.
She said each of the 20 wards will have one Sacco comprised of members drawn from the farmers groups that are being supported by the county government through the Wezesha Kirinyaga program.
Cooperatives increase access to high-quality farming inputs, bargain on behalf of members, provide transportation services, and market produce on behalf of members.
“Eventually, the Saccos will be able to offer e-voucher program for subsidized farm inputs, provide crop and livestock insurance as well as aggregate and market the farmers’ produce,” she added.
The funding is the 2nd batch of the Third Phase of financial support for the groups.
The county government has previously disbursed a total of Ksh. 380.2 M out of which Ksh. 210.7M was given to farmers groups and Ksh. 169.5 went to farmers cooperatives.
“We remain committed to supporting all our farmers to increase income from farming and uplift their standards of living,” she added.
To support establishment of the cooperatives, Waiguru said her administration have supported the farmers set up offices and supplied them with computers and printers to enhance their capacity in delivering high quality services to the members.
“We are also supporting them in payment of one year rent for their offices and we will be paying one year salary for a book-keeper who has already been recruited and trained, we will also pay for them one-year statutory fees to enable them kick off operations successfully,” said Waiguru.
The governor said the Saccos have already mobilized 1,666 members and Ksh. 2.9 million in terms of savings, share capital and registration.
She urged all farmers to join the cooperatives in their respective wards in order to benefit from a variety of services they offer.
Many beneficiaries of the Wezesha Kirinyaga empowerment program testified of how the project has transformed their lives through agriculture.
Evangeline Karimi who joined the program in 2018 said that many farmers have benefitted from tomato, dairy, avocado, and poultry projects among others and now from the subsidized fertilizer that will enable them harvest more produce.
She hailed the launch of Ward-based Saccos as a timely economic intervention for farmers.
Cyrus Wambugu, a farmer from Nyangati Ward said that the multi-valuechain Saccos will enable farmers transition from subsistence to commercial farming since they will access affordable operational capital. He hailed Governor Waiguru for the support saying that it transforming the county through agriculture.