Kalro, USAid to set up value addition plants for value addition

The Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (Kalro) and USAid will establish Sh30 million value addition industrial parks in arid and semi-arid areas to benefit root and tuber crop farmers.

According to USAid/Kalro programmes finance and administration manager Jayne Gathii, five projects expected to be complete in 2018 will be based in Embu, Bomet, Makueni, Laikipia and Murang’a.

She said the youth and women groups would process farm produce into higher value products for sale.

“We will build a fully equipped value-addition plant in each of the earmarked areas. In mind we have a concept where farmers will not be selling their harvests in their raw form at the farm gate — rather they will come up with creative products for the market to net higher incomes,” she told the Business Daily at the Murang’a-based Kalro centre.

The programme is expected to improve incomes in the counties.

“For example, a kilo of cassava is being bought from the farmers at Sh5. Arrowroots farmers earn between Sh10 and Sh15 per kilo whereas banana farmers are earning between Sh10 and Sh13 per kilo. Those prices are middlemen-driven and are classic examples of exploitative tendencies that brokers thrive on at the detriment of the farmers,” she said, adding that poor farmers in the rangelands would never break from the vicious cycle of poverty in such a market environment.