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Cassava farmers set to benefit from KES10M project

20 December 2014, 09:56 Jane Zack

Busia - More than KES 10 million has been set aside by the county government of Busia in conjunction with the East African Agricultural Productivity Project (EAAPP) for the construction of a cassava processing plant in Simba Chai area of Teso South sub-county.

More than 15,000 cassava farmers in Busia, Bungoma and Siaya counties will benefit from the joint program between the county and national governments, through creation of job opportunities and income generation.

A two-acre piece of land has been given out by the county government for the establishment of the facility and the area Governor Sospeter Ojaamong is expected to break the ground for the construction of the factory early next year.

The County's Executive for Agriculture Moses Mwanje has appealed to farmers to plant the crop on large scale basis as the region has suitable soil, climate, and a lot of potential in cassava farming.

"The market will be for their produce and we have to put more efforts in agribusiness to reverse the trend of the high poverty index in this region that currently stands at 66 percent. We need to register a tremendous growth as we are determined to make a difference," Mwanje stated.

"Cassava can enhance the county's food security and we shall inject more funds in agriculture to ensure that our farmers benefit from their produce through processing and value addition. We will now be able to produce starch in Busia County through extraction from dried cassava roots," Mwanje added.

Cassava collection sites will also be constructed which will be the major delivery points of the produce by farmers, from which it will be picked and transported to the factory.

So far there is no other kind of project in the region. Cassava is an important staple food for consumption and income generation for farming communities especially in Teso North and South sub-counties.

Most farmers in the region at least have the plantation in their farms, where they prefer the crop to other crops such as beans, maize and bananas.

Stephen Pamba, 29, a farmer in Ang'orom area of Teso south sub-county says that cassava is a drought resistant and tolerant crop and is capable of growing on marginal soils.

"This crop is a major staple food in our community and it provides a basic diet for most of the locals," he said.

Whereas it's a staple food in the region, the crop is also cultivated as an animal crop in the area.

Geoffrey Mafura, a field officer at Kenya Agricultural Research Institute in Alupe says that due to the high competition of livestock and human over maize, KARI proposed that in future cassava could be planted as livestock feed, also owing to its high carbohydrates content.

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