Waiguru calls for enhanced quality management of agricultural produce to attract better returns

Kirinyaga County Governor Anne Waiguru has called for enhanced quality management and control of agricultural produce in order to enable them fetch better returns for farmers.

She said that beside managing and controlling the quality of produce, farmers must also comply with the laid down food safety standards especially in the international markets where there are prohibitions of export produce containing certain herbicides.

The governor who is also the Chair of Council of Governors (COG) was speaking on Monday during a Madaraka Day- Pre-event expo hosted by Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire at Embu University. The forum brought together county farmers in a panel discussion with the Cabinet Secretary for Agriculture Mithika Lintruri and other government officials in the agriculture sector.

Waiguru was responding to an enquiry made by Manyatta Member of Parliament, Gitonga Mukunji, seeking to understand how Kirinyaga coffee was able to fetch good prices for the farmers.

“The secret to our farmers fetching good prices for their produce is having a good working relationship between the county government and the farmers to ensure that the latter are constantly educated on good agricultural practices that ensure quantity and quality production,” the governor said.

She said that her county has managed to get in the world map for producing some of the world’s best specialty coffees, citing Kii Coffee Factory under Rung’eto Farmers’ Cooperative Society that had its AA-grade of unroasted coffee sold at 14 dollars per kilogram, recording the highest price in Kenyan market for the past five years.

“We have an elaborate extension services network that continually educate farmers on many aspects of agricultural production ranging from land preparation, planting, use of herbicides, harvesting and post-harvest management that include value addition or processing where necessary,” the governor said

The governor underscored the importance of constantly building the capacity of agricultural extension officers in order to equip them with contemporary trends and practices in the agricultural sector.

Waiguru also stressed the importance of having a strong cooperative system that enables farmers access agricultural literacy, farm inputs as well as mechanisms to ensure that produce aggregated for common marketing meets the required quality standards.

“The County Aggregation and Industrial Parks that we are establishing in the counties will provide an avenue for farmers to sell their produce to processors who will set factories at the industrial sites or even set their processing plants through their cooperatives thus earning them better prices for the produce. The industrial parks will also create direct and indirect employment to thousands of people in the counties,” the COG chair added.

She pointed out that apart from hosting big factories, the Industrial Parks will also host small and medium enterprises in the spirit of Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda.

The farmers who represented value chains such as coffee, tea, khat, mangoes, avocados, milk, macadamia, and poultry sought to know from the agriculture minister what the government was doing in order to reduce the cost of production, prohibitive cross-county levies, value addition and processing and marketing of their produce.

The CS Linturi said that the government has put in put various strategies to ensure that farmers’ grievances are addressed.

“Kenya Kwanza Government is committed to ensuring that farmers reap from their sweat through streamlining the chain of market as well as reducing the cost of production by increasing access to affordable farm inputs,” the CS said.

Linturi added that the government will provide KES. 25 million per ward to enable farmers undertake agricultural value chains specific to their wards.

Embu Governor Cecily Mbarire said that her administration will form strategic partnerships with other counties and the national government to support farmers in enhancing production, processing and marketing of their produce.

She said that in order to maximise on the oncoming industrial parks, neighbouring counties will partner so that each county establishes a factory that can serve other counties and vice versa.

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