Hope is in the air for cassava farmers in Kilifi County after the devolved government carried a test run for the Sh25million cassava milling plant that has been purchased by the government. – By Ramadhan Kambi.
The test was conducted at the Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) based at the Kenya Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) offices in Mtwapa.
The plant will be installed at Tezo Cassava factory which is now complete.
The event was witnessed by Agriculture chief officer Frederick Kaingu and director of Crop production in Kilifi County Magret Jefwa.
Mr Kaingu said the installation of the plant is expected to end cassava farmers’ woes after their produce rot in their farms for lack of proper market.
“There has been a lot of challenges from farmers in tapping the cassava value chain but this time around, this factory will address that. It will increase the farmers benefit and end their long years of suffering from this crop,” he said.
He said the plant will be run under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) where Ramada Food Products was picked as the firm to represent in the operation of the Tezo factory.
“In such a program, the county identifies a private developer to run the facility and in this case, we picked Ramada Foods Products because of their experience in this sector and we hope that this will provide an opportunity for our farmers to fully benefit,” he said.
Mr Kaingu said the county is home to more than 30,000 acres under cassava with a daily production of about 20 tonnes per acre on daily basis.
Ramada Food Products projects coordinator Wangila Wabomba said the plant is expected to be installed in the Tezo factory soon after the test run is over.
“Once the testing is over, this plant will be taken for installation at the Tezo factory. However, we are working with the team of engineers to see how it will be fitted there and also for its smooth running,” he said.
Ms Jefwa said the County is currently sensitizing cassava farmers to adopt the plant of tajirika, a cassava variety that matures within a short time.
“Initially farmers used to plant the traditionally seedlings but which takes longer to mature. We are changing that situation now and farmers are adopting to the planting of ‘Tajirika’ variety. As county, we are happy that farmers have adopted to that with easy and we expect them to increase their acreage,” Ms Jefwa said.