Nakuru County has marked the beginning of a journey to achieve value addition, to maximize its agricultural potential.
The groundbreaking of the Kentegra pyrethrum factory on Monday has allowed Nakuru to restore its pride as the home of pyrethrum. H.E Susan Kihika, during the groundbreaking ceremony, said that pyrethrum farming is a flagship project, which she envisions becoming the main income-generating crop. It is currently being grown in 8 out of 11 sub-counties: Molo, Kuresoi North, Kuresoi South, Njoro, Gilgil, Naivasha, Bahati and Subukia, benefitting more than 7,056 farmers.
Inadequate funding and unavailability of seedlings, competition from higher-value crops, post-harvest losses, poor pricing, high labour costs, pests and diseases, and poor infrastructure have been some of the challenges facing pyrethrum farmers. That has decreased the exportation rate from 80% to 5%, lowering the county’s economy.
Governor Susan Kihika’s administration has teamed up with stakeholders such as Good People International and the National Government, to establish Nakuru as the county of Agro-Industry. They have provided seedlings to farmers and promoted contract farming between farmers and processors like Kentegra, Pyrethrum Processing Company of Kenya (PPCK) and Africheem Botanicals. The partnership will ensure timely payment of farmers and extension services, provision of farmers with modern driers, embracing climate-smart technologies to mitigate against drought, mobilizing farmers into cooperatives for bargaining power, fast-tracking of the pyrethrum industry policy and revisiting the legal implication ownership of PPCK assets.
In the bid to attract investors to help in lining agriculture and industry, Nakuru County is taking adequate measures to create a business-friendly environment.
“Our resolve as Nakuru County Government to restore pyrethrum as the commercial poster crop is driven by the fact that a decade ago, Kenya used to account for 80 per cent of all pyrethrum bought by international companies but was now only accounting for five per cent. We face challenges with inadequate funding, inadequate planting materials, competition from higher-value crops, post-harvest losses, poor pricing, high labour costs, pests and diseases, and poor infrastructure. We endeavour to restore the pride of Nakuru County as the home of pyrethrum.,” said H.E Governor Susan Kihika.
Hon Susan Kihika was accompanied by H.E Margaret Whitman US ambassador to Kenya, Mr Brian McKenzie Chief Executive Officer Kentegra Kenya, Nakuru County Executive Committee members and MCAs.
The groundbreaking ceremony of the factory comes at a time when plans are at an advanced stage for the commissioning of the construction of Nakuru County Aggregation and Industrial Park (CAIPS) at Egerton Agro-City in Njoro. Once completed, it will provide farmers with cold storage facilities to minimize postharvest losses, keep away predatory middlemen, and link farmers to value addition through agro-processing.
“We have the farmers, a business-friendly environment, and unlimited potential to make Nakuru an industrial hub, producing Nakuru-made products and providing employment for hundreds of our youths,” Governor Susan Kihika.