NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 13 – Some 28,000 small holder farmers in seven counties are set to acquire clean, quality planting materials and improve productivity and marketability of cassava in the local and international market.
Speaking during the launch of the program “Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Cassava Value Chain in Kenya” on Thursday, EU Head of Rural Development and Food Security, Klaus Gautsch said as a drought resistant crop, the cassava project will help to address the need for sustainable food and nutrition security as well as create job opportunities and increase incomes for small holder farmers.
The programme is being launched through a grant of up to 6.5 million euros to create 5,600 new jobs and increase access to credit for to least 50 per cent of farmers and businesses active in the cassava value chain, in the target counties of Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Kitui and Kilifi.
“We see a real opportunity for cassava farmers not only because they will be increase production for household cooking, but because this project will help to meet the growing demand for cassava products in the industrial food, beverage, livestock feed, and textile sectors,” Gautsch stressed.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett commended the EU for supporting the cassava project saying it is in line with the agricultural sector goal of achieving an average growth rate of seven per cent per year through increased production levels.
“This programme will go a long way in supporting our mission to ensure an innovative, commercially-oriented and modern agriculture by 2020 as stipulated in the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS),” the CS noted.
The programme will also ensure that cassava in Kenya competes favourably in pricing with cassava and its products in the global market and increase utilization of cassava starch in manufacturing in Kenya, including in the paper industry and in beverages.
Over 140,000 people in Kenya, 60 per cent of them women, are set to benefit from a five-year EU funded programme, focused on strengthening the quantity, quality and marketability of cassava both locally and globally.
“In a context where men typically make business and household decisions, a gender transformative programme approach will help foster joint decision-making by women and men within farming households,” Gautsch stressed.
Last year, the government approved Sh21.6 billion to be used to mitigate the prolonged drought that had affected 23 counties.
The late onset and poor performance of the short and long rains last year affecting 1.3 million people, led the extension of the dry season into 2017.
“Drought cycles seem to have shortened to every 2-3 years instead of 5-7 years in the past owing to change in weather patterns,” said the National Drought Management Authority (NDMA) CEO James Oduor.
To cushion the impact of drought, NDMA noted that they are working on implementing the Ending Drought Emergencies (EDE) framework to reduce drought vulnerability and their integration into sector and county plans and budgets.