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Tissue culture banana takes root in Kenya

MURANGA, Kenya, Sep 14 – In a bid to make the buying and selling of tissue culture bananas and other farm produce in Central Province easier, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Kenya (AGRA) has facilitated the opening of an Agribusiness Centre in Murang’a.

AGRA’s programmes officer Stephen Njukia said the opening of the Sabasaba Agribusiness Centre which was also done in partnership with TechnoServe is part of the organisation’s objectives to make African markets more efficient for the millions of farmers across the continent.

“We are excited to see the determination of these farmers who now consider bananas as a cash crop just as coffee and tea. They received the tissue culture technology from Africa Harvest, managed their crop well, and now they are ready for high end buyers,” said Mr Njukia.

The marketing of bananas in Africa, like with many other crops, is hampered by poor infrastructure, price fluctuations and proper storage.

Mr Njukia however pledged their commitment to continue looking at such initiatives that reduce transaction costs, increase value addition in food usage and demand through alternative uses and those that promote enabling legal and policy frameworks.

Technoserve Country Director Fred Ogana added that the center would help empower small-scale farmers through for example linking them to profitable markets.

“TechnoServe is delighted to see that Sabasaba Agribusiness Cooperative Society has embarked on a growth path. Our contribution in this Agribusiness centre is aimed at fostering economic empowerment of smallholder farmers through farm produce bulking, linking farmers to other business development services,” said Mr Ogana.

Farmers in the area say they have already started to benefit from this facility through higher prices for their produce.

“Already the market is helping us bulk our bananas, weigh them and sell in kilograms as opposed to selling in the open air market where the prices are eyeball estimates, ” said Joseph Wanyoike, farmer and chairman of the agribusiness cooperative society which runs the market.

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“The market is also a business platform, helping us connect to urban traders and facilitating financial linkages through Equity, Cooperative and K-Rep Banks,” he enthused.

The market was built on a 11/2 acre piece of land worth Sh1.08 million and will serve 15 other producer business groups around Murang’a county.

“When I see this market center and the many bananas I harvest, I see the potential for cash. I see buyers from the urban centers coming to collect the banana. I see my sons and daughters taking up farming on our three-acre plot of land and helping me invest more in the banana business because now the market is recognizing our quality,” said Mary Nyambura a member of the cooperative.

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