Uasin Gishu awaits avocado factory amid maize woes


An avocado seller in Nairobi: Uasin Gishu says diversification will boost fortunes. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Uasin Gishu County is set to construct a multi-million avocado factory as farmers who have been struggling to sell their maize to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) seek alternative investment.

Jackson Mandago, the governor, and Ainabkoi MP William Chepkut on Monday said that the Sh200 million plant will be constructed by Stabex Petroleum Company through its horticultural subsidiary Herbex.

Speaking at Chepsaita in Turbo constituency, Mr Mandago said Stabex has already agreed to set up the factory which will be the first of its kind in the North Rift region.

"Have you seen petroleum company named Stabex? That company has horticulture company in Athi River called Herbex. They want to set up an avocado company in Eldoret at a cost of Sh200 million," the county chief told residents.

The county boss further noted that Stabex will establish a macadamia factory after completing the construction of the avocado plant.

The governor reiterated that the coming in of the two factories will be a major boost to efforts to address increased unemployment.

This comes when there has been a push for maize farmers in the region to diversify into other crops with leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto vowing to ensure farmers plant other crops.

Mr Mandago claimed that there was a huge market for avocado and macadamia in the Middle East which local farmers should exploit to boost their economic livelihoods.

“If you have any questions regarding diversification, I and my deputy Daniel Chemno will be more than willing to explain every detail to you,” Mr Mandago said.

The DP has also been pushing for farmers to diversify into alternative crops and stop relying on maize.

“Time has come for us to think outside the box and stop doing the same things all the time and expect different results,” said the DP at a past event.

The diversification calls have got strong opposition in the area regarded as the grain basket with some farmers and leaders claiming it is another ploy to create artificial maize shortage for some unscrupulous individuals to import cheap maize.

Recently there was furore when the government set the price of 90-kilogramme bag of maize at Sh2,300, saying the production cost went down in 2018.

President Uhuru Kenyatta intervened, ordering the NCPB to raise the price to Sh2,500.