M a r k e t N e w s

Machakos Banks On Green Grams and Fruits to Industrialise in Kenya

Posted on : Thursday, 24th December 2015

 After buying tractors to bring more land under cultivation and distributing seeds and fertiliser to poor families, Machakos County has now turned to green grams. Governor Alfred Mutua spoke to JULIUS SIGEI.

 
In our last interview two years ago, you told us that only about 20 per cent of the arable land in Machakos was under agriculture and that you planned to increase this to 70 per cent. What is the situation now?
 
We have been able to plough extensively. We are looking at about 4,000 hectares. We have increased the amount of food being grown because of our initiative of distributing free seeds and fertiliser to poor families.
 
We also have 40 tractors ploughing for free. Our priority now is on green grams. We have secured a huge market in India and we are now testing different varieties on different soils. We chose this crop because it needs only two weeks of rain to do well. We have set aside 10,000ha for this.
 
 
 
You also spoke of the Kienyeji chicken project. How is that now?
 
The chicken programme is going on. We now have our own hatcheries. We should be able to do a million chicks beginning in the New Year.
 
We want every home to have a minimum of 30 chickens. To me hunger is not about lack of food, but lack of money to buy food. When you are hungry and you have chickens, you sell two cocks and buy flour, bread and milk.
 
We have held a meeting with all Non-Governmental Organisations to assist us in food security. By the end of 2017, there won't be food relief in Machakos.
 
Look at Saudi Arabia which is really a desert. They don't grow food, yet there is no hunger there. They have money that allows them to buy food.
 
Mango juice made in Masaku. How far is this juice?
 
The challenge has been getting the appropriate land for the factory land. We now have a suitable site at Masii. Engineers are on the ground and the design has been done.
 
We shall be breaking the ground in February. By the beginning of 2017 we shall be shipping out our first juice. We are also partnering with USAID and other NGOs on mango drying to make snacks such as chips.
 
The goodness with mangoes is that nothing is thrown away. We shall export mango chips. Such bitings are also popular with airlines. We are also reviving grapes, especially in Lukenya and Yatta areas. They do very well in Ukambani. This will create jobs in the wine industry.
 
When it rains in Machakos it pours. And this was indeed your phrase two years ago. It must ring truer more so now during this El Nino times. How are you utilising this water to bring money into farmers' pockets?
 
We have constructed more than 200 mini dams. We want to take this number to 500 by the end of next year. We are also doing river dams and digging boreholes.

Source : allafrica.com
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