Nakuru county government’s Ministry of Agriculture, has partnered with Bidco Africa in an effort to increase the production of oil crops through contract farming through a project dubbed, ‘Enhancing productivity of sunflower and soya beans for smallholder and large-scale farmers’.
“We want to support farmers interested in sunflower and soya farming,” said the County Executive Committee Member (CeC) in charge of agriculture, Dr Immaculate Njuthe Maina.
The animal feed factory, which can produce 160,000 tonnes of feeds annually, will provide a ready market for farmers.
Bidco has partnered with a leading American farmers’ cooperative and manufacturer of animal nutrition products, Land O’Lakes, to open an ultra-modern animal feed plant in Nakuru, Bidco Land O’ Lakes.
Bidco Group Chief Executive Officer Vimal Shah said: “We have engaged 30,000 farmers for a ready market and the number should rise to 60,000 farmers within the year.”
The project, Dr Maina said, would initially focus on Subukia, Rongai, and Bahati sub-counties, whose climatic conditions are favourable for growing the two crops.
In the partnership, the county will help farmers realise increased yields and good quality produce that can attract higher prices by creating a platform to provide and enable the transfer of knowledge on oil crop farming.
“As a county, we will strive to give priority to accelerating growth in the oil crops sector. We are emphasising increased farmer education and field days, good agronomic practices, and improved input use to increase productivity.”
She added: “We will also work with oil crop farmers to ensure that they form groups and cooperatives to help market their produce”.
Farmers’ field days
Bidco Africa last month organised a field day in Rongai Sub- County, where farmers were trained on soya and sunflower production.
Mr Shah encouraged farmers to diversify the production of the two crops, which can also be planted as rotational crops. He also asked them to ensure market-led farming, through precision planning that would enable better management.
Ms Jenipher Jebet, a sunflower farmer from Rongai, said that a ready market for the produce would encourage farmers to invest more in the production of oil crops.
“Our challenge has been the marketing of our farm produce, but with the Bidco partnership, most of us will be encouraged to go back into sunflower and soya farming,” she said.