Written by Leonard Wamalwa
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Trans Nzoia maize farmers drying maize before storage.The maize farmers and wheat famers from Nandi, Uasin Gishu, West Pokot counties are set to benefit from a Sh 1 Billion milling plant to be set up. [PHOTO | File| West Fm]
Farmers in the North Rift region who engage in maize and wheat farming of will now have an opportunity to own their own a milling plant in the region that is a major producer of cereals among other farm products in the country.
According to Trans Nzoia West District Cooperative Officer - DCO John Mutenyo, the plant which was initiated by the government through the ministry of cooperative development shall cost Sh 1 billion and shall be build in Trans Nzoia County.
Speaking to journalists in his office in Kitale, the DCO said that the plant shall comprise of farmers from four counties in the region including Trans Nzoia, West Pokot, Uasin Gishu and Nandi who are expected to register and subscribe their shareholding to have the mill become operational.
"The mill will be put up basing on the registration and share drive of individual farmers and cooperative societies in the four counties who are free to join," Mutenyo told reporters.
He added that despite the government having initiated the move through the line ministry, the mill will be solely run and managed by the farmers as the government monitors its operations through the Cooperatives Act and other relevant regulations.
An individual farmer who wants to join the plant shall have to pay an entrance fee of Kshs 2000 and a minimum share contribution of Kshs 25,000 while a cooperative society wanting to join the plant will pay an entrance fee of Kshs 10,000 and a minimum share contribution of Kshs 50,000.
The plant is expected to buy cereals especially maize and wheat from farmers whereby they will be paid promptly before milling and engaging in other value addition activities that shall in the long run give the member farmers and cooperative societies through bonuses and other benefits.
The Trans Nzoia West District Cooperative officer- John Mutenyo.
"The mill will benefit the farmers a great deal by rendering the middlemen and other cartels irrelevant and thus have the farmers reap fully from their farming unlike now where many of them are demoralized for getting poor payments from their cereals as a result of the cartels that are rampant in the region," said the DCO.
Among the products expected to be produced by the mill include packaged maize flour and manufacturing of animal feeds from the same products.
The decision to have the mill build in Trans Nzoia was reached through a vote by stakeholders from all the four counties held in Eldoret whereby Trans Nzoia emerged the winner amongst other counties such as Uasin Gishu that had lobbied for the plant to be put up there.
"I am urging all farmers in the region to embrace this initiative so that they can fully benefit from it and improve their economic base through farming and will also create employment opportunities for the youths," Mutenyo urged.
The mill's share drive shall kick off after a full committee is put in place after the elections that are expected to be held to take over from the interim committee that had overseen the registration of the plant.
At the moment, Trans Nzoia County has only one private milling plant- Kitale Industries with many maize buyers who buy maize from farmers and store them before selling the product to other milling plants outside Trans Nzoia County at higher prices as compared to the prices they buy from the farmers.
Formation of farmers union to seek for cheap fertilizer
At the same time the government has also initiated the formation of a national farmers union to be mandated to source for cheap fertilizer from around the globe to enable farmers fully engage in farming without challenges related to the shortages and high prices of the commodity experienced in the region.
Kenya Farmers Union - KFU was formed early this year and comprises of all registered cooperative unions in all counties in the country that are operative to have their farmers who are members access cheap quality fertilizer to facilitate their farming activities.
KFU shall through its national officials seek for cheap fertilizer from other countries to be supplied to farmers through their respective cooperative unions in the country that are operative cheaply.
However, Trans Nzoia County did not participate in the initial formation of the national office because it had no operative cooperative union but requested for reservation of some seats for the county as the stakeholders put in place modalities to have an operational cooperative union in the area.
The county had two cooperative unions including Mt Elgon Coffee Cooperative Union that collapsed as the other one Trans Nzoia Cooperative Union was liquidated hence none of them is operational at the moment.
Due to the situation, the county stakeholders have now formed a new union in the name of Trans Nzoia County Cooperative Union Limited to go in conformity with other counties in the requirements of KFU. .
The DCO noted that in its full implementation period the KFU will enable farmers improve greatly in cereals production because they will now manage to access the fertilizer with ease at affordable prices that had become major impediments in their farming in the recent past.
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