The Chairperson of Kenya Federation of Farmers (KEFF) in Migori County Mr. Peter Mwita has challenged both the National and County Governments to introduce local farmers to more dependable cash crops.
Speaking at Kendege Farm in Kuria East, Mr. Mwita said that cash crop farming was the best way to adopt since it is more stable, long lasting enterprise and reliable as it will help boost the economic status of the local population.
The official said that initially the Kuria region used to plant Tobacco as a cash crop but after the exit of the British American Tobacco (BAT) and other Tobacco factories on the basis of protecting the environmental and the health issues among other related matters, residents had to look for other farming alternatives to sustain their incomes.
He said that the area can adequately sustain coffee farming as per the soil tests so far done and urged the local leaders to champion the same in order to ensure that the residents do not languish in abject poverty.
Mwita said that cash crop is a long term investment that has many benefits including the bonuses earned, the good profit returns, the job opportunities created through factories and the large number of Sacco entities formed.
He noted that introducing a variety of cash crops in the region will empower the Kuria residents socially and economically.
The official explained that the massive Tobacco farming efforts previously witnessed in the region had rendered the soils to be too acidic making the other viable horticultural crops to produce low yields.
Mr. Mwita however lamented that the lime fertilizer that can be used to rectify the acidic Potential of hydrogen (PH) of the soil was too expensive for farmers to purchase, adding that the Lime’s primary role is to alter soil pH and offset soil acidity, which can improve the availability of plant nutrients.
“Our people cannot survive solely on horticultural farming because of the acidity of the soil, poor prices that have been brought about by the middle men, lack of proper markets to sell our produce and unhealthy competition of cheap commodities brought from Tanzania. We need more alternative cash crop to sustain and economically improve the livelihood of our people”, said Mwita.
He said that cash crop introduction was a more viable project that will help the Kuria farmers to earn a decent living through its structured local markets and exports.
The chairman acknowledged that the county government’s dream project of “one cow- one tobacco farmer” was a noble cause but its benefits were minimal because it only benefited a handful of farmers. He however noted that feed production and formulation was so costly that it has drastically reduced the benefits of the project to the beneficiaries.
He urged the county government to help Kuria farmers seriously embrace a cash crop culture to ensure a long sustained income to farmers.
Mwita also urged the county government of Migori to speed up the launch of the Getonganya sweet potato factory in Kuria West Sub County saying it would ensure creation of many job opportunities to the local youths.
He said that the factory once opened will add value to the sweet potatoes and eliminate middle men who for the longest time now have exploited the farmers. He pointed out that the sweet potato factory will greatly help the farmers to achieve a maximum profit from their hard earned farming.
Ms. Anita Masee an official of the Kenya Federation of Farmers in Migori County acknowledged that the introduction of a cash crop culture will create jobs for the youths and a ready market for the farmers.
She noted that for a long time the Kuria people have been associated with a lot of negativity like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), cattle rustling, early marriages and gender and sexual violence.
She said that it was time for Kuria people to start building their society with enterprises that can make them economically empowered.