NYERI, Kenya, Aug 4 – After seeing the struggle his parents and villagers at Kihuti in Mukurweini were going through while selling bananas at Ichamara market, Reuben Kibue has decided to set up a food processing plant in their village to end the exploitation of farmers by buyers.
The Rutune Primary School teacher established the plant that buys bananas from farmers at Sh15 per kilogram but the price has dropped to Sh12 due to the impact of COVID-19.
This has renewed farmers’ urge to engage in banana farming which was on the verge of collapse.
“While growing up, I noticed that most farmers were giving up on banana farming which is their mainstay following the collapse of coffee farming in the area and that is why I came up with the idea of setting up this plant where I buy bananas and process them into porridge flour” said Kibue.
Kibue says that he plans to expand the plant in the next five years though he says he is facing financial challenges noting that all operations are manual.
Richard Kibue says he decided to set up the plant in 2016 and has since employed over twelve people in the plant, which is located at Kihuti village.
Ruth Kavindu, a banana farmer in the area says that exploitation by middlemen is long gone and they are reaping big from farming.
“Before this plant was set up we used to ferry our produce to the local market where we would sell a bunch at only Sh150. However, this now is a thing of the past as we are now fetching Sh400 on delivery” said Kavidu.
She says that many farmers are now seriously farming bananas, a produce she says is well paying.
Orthodox Church Vicar General Mt Kenya Region Gregory Wanjohi echoed similar sentiments saying this is a milestone in banana farming that provides daily bread to most families in the area.
“We as a church are encouraged by Kibue efforts. We feel our people are benefitting,” said Wanjohi.
Farmers in the country have been facing challenges of finding market for their produce, and sometimes end up dumping their produce at open-air markets.
However, with setting up of small cottage industries at grassroots levels, this problem can be solved.