West Pokot county government has distributed more than 300,000 free coffee seedlings to encourage farmers to shift from cattle keeping in a fresh effort to end rustling.
Governor John Lonyangapuo said the pilot project would involve more than 500 farmers each year and by the year 2022 more than 30,000 hectares would be under the crop.
He said coffee farming would alleviate poverty as an alternative livelihood.
“We’ve been branded as cattle rustlers for so many years which have hampered the economic life of our people. The county wants to divert attention from not only keeping cattle but also depending on cash crop farming,” said Prof Lonyangapuo in Murkwijit, Kapenguria at the distribution of the seedlings.
Agriculture executive Geoffrey Lipale said cash crops have more of a stable market than food crops.
“Farmers have been concentrating on planting maize, we want to train them not to depend on one crop because it can fail. Diversification will help them earn more and alleviate poverty,” he said.
Mr Lipale added that they had conducted soil testing and found out that coffee, pyrethrum, tea, cotton and sunflower would grow well in the county.
He said 750 farmers had been identified for the coffee growing pilot project this year.