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Enterprise

How ex-mechanic went on to set up maize milling plant

Buffalo Millers in Kisumu
Workers packaging Mfalme maize flour at Buffalo Millers in Kisumu, Eldoret town, Uasin Gishu County, August 19, 2019. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA 

For many years, George Kili was among farmers suffering in the hands of cartels who offered rock bottom prices for their produce.

However, two years ago Mr Kili said enough was enough and embarked on an ambitious journey of putting up his own maize milling plant in Eldoret town.

Today, the plant is not only benefiting him but also other farmers in the region.

“I decided to open this milling plant and do value addition on my maize in order to gain more from my farming activities,” Mr Kili told Enterprise.

Ever since he established the Sh50 million plant, Mr Kili hardly has any regrets. The factory known as Buffalo Millers has been registering tremendous growth from 25 tonnes capacity daily at the beginning, to 50 tonnes in the second year and currently it has expanded to 100 tonnes.

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In addition, the plant has offered employment to the locals, with 50 on permanent basis and an equal number working on temporary terms.

Mr Kili, who is a large-scale farmer in Uasin Gishu County, processes all his maize from his 800 acre farm at the mill, which only covers 10 percent of the total factory requirement.

“We have contracted over 11 farmers who supply us with clean maize for milling,” he says.

Mr Kili, who owns Komool Farm, has also set up a wheat milling plant to add value to his crop and help other farmers to get a ready market for their produce.

Both the maize and wheat flour which trade under the name Mfalme, have become popular in the market with Mr Kili saying he cannot meet the demand.

At the moment the flour is only retailing in western Kenya as he cannot produce enough stocks to supply the whole country.

Mr Kili’s current success belies the hurdles he has faced and the long road he has travelled.

His journey to becoming not only a prominent farmer but a businessman to reckon with started from a humble beginning. He became a mechanic after dropping out of school in Form Two. Although he was not making much, he saved aggresively. It is these savings that helped him to launch into farming by leasing plots.

From the earnings he obtained from farming, he eventually bought his own farm, which he has been expanding and is now just shy of a thousand acres.

He also bought machinery, which he leased to other farmers, making handsome returns that he has spent on bolstering his farming activities.

Today, the entrepreneur owns all sorts of machines with his farm being fully mechanised, from planting to harvesting.

By setting up milling plants, the farmer also wanted to address the perennial twin problems of lack of market and price unpredictability. For instance, last year, farmers got stuck with their produce after the government closed doors of the National Cereals and Produce Board, saying the stores could not take in more grain.

The move subjected growers to enormous losses as most of them with immediate needs had to sell their crop to brokers at as low as Sh1,800 for a 90 kilo bag while those who had opted to store and wait for the market to stabilise suffered from post-harvest losses.

Many small-scale farmers rely on agriculture to meet their daily needs, such as paying school fees for their children and meeting other basic requirements.

The farmers also lack proper storage facilities to help them keep their crop in good condition for long as they wait for prices to improve.

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