A legion of jubilant residents today turned up at the Kitui bus park to witness governor Charity Ngilu launch her pet food securityproject that targets approximately 200,000 small holder farmers in Kitui County today.
The ambitious programme impelemented jontly with Kenya red crosss and dubbed the‘Ndengu Revolution’ seeks to eradicate perennial hunger in kitui county as well as improve livelihoods of residents and reduce poverty through rural development.
Governor Charity Ngilu said the programme was in line with her administration’s objectives of tackling Kitui County’s food deep rooted poverty and economic empowerment of residents through utilization of locally available resources.
An estimated sh4 billion is expected in the county as proceeds after sale of harvested green grams in 4 months’ time upon planting and cultivation by local farmers.
Food security topped the governor’s five pronged agenda for the county she leads during her campaign to become governor and tthrough this programme, local farmers will also benefit from subsidised financial services courtesy of her government.
Speaking during the launch of the programme, Governor Ngilu reiterated her commitment to make kitui a food producer from a perpetual food aid dependent county breaking from a past where residents queued long hours at camps awaiting relief food.
“We are walking towards kicking relief food out of Kitui County and never again shall our people sit at chief’s camps for portions from charitable organisations” she said
Kenya Red Cross Society secretary general Dr. Abbas Gullet said his organisation had set aside sh500 million to purchase the produce after harvest in February while the governor further revealed her advanced communication with Indian buyers for a direct purchase of the produce from farmers as opposed to the past where farmers were conned of their sweated produce by cheap brokers.
“We are targeting sh100 for each Kilogramme we sell and our county assembly shall enact legislation to protect our farmers from brokers who come to exploit our people after harvest of their farm produce” the governor said.
Ngilu said each household will be issued with a 2Kgs packet of certified seeds which is enough for planting in a one acre farm. The green gram KS20 and N26 seed types suitable for the county will be distributed.
She said whereas the seeds would have cost a farmer Ksh 500, the county government will pay Ksh 250 for each farmer while KRCS will top up the balance of the other ksh 250.
“This will cost us just about Ksh 100 million. If each kilogramme yields a bare minimum of 90 kgs, this will give us a total of 36 million kilogrammes which when sold at Ksh 100 per kilo gives us a total of Ksh 3.6 billion! Imagine Ksh 3.6 billion in one season in Kitui County, from investing only Ksh 100 million in seed – isn’t this a good investment and good value for money?” the governor posed.
In addition to supporting farmers access seeds, the county government will assist farmers to access agricultural extension services and technical advice from agricultural experts. KRCS will also collaborate with the county government to secure ready market for the farmers by organising them into cooperatives that can market their produce in bulk.
Kenya Red Cross had listed Kitui as one of the regions most affected by the impact of the failed rains that have occasioned the current drought crisis in Kenya.
Dr. Gullet said the project had come at an opportune moment to support residents meet their immediate needs through early recovery initiatives that strengthen livelihoods through support to subsistence farmers, as well as access to water.
He further emphasized on the need to create community resilience, ownership and self-reliance through such transformative projects.
He lamented a continued overreliance on aid by Kenyans which he said was long overdue urging residents and Kenyans at large to desist from such and instead embrace agricultural production among other means of economic growth.
“During independence, Kenya was a net food producer and exporter. It is a big shock that we have now disintegrated into a food aid nation” he said
He further said his organisation was ready to engage and partner with likeminded county administrations and charitable organisations to better the lives of Kenyans.
“We do not keep idle money in our coffers but when governor Charity Ngilu came to our office with this noble proposal, we had no option but to find resources to partner with her in this programme” Dr Gullet said
The partnership will further see KRC rehabilitate 20 boreholes, water pipeline and water points as part of the emergency interventions to enable communities in Kitui to access water as they wait for recharge of surface water sources in the short rains