AGRICULTURE THE BACKBONE OF ECONOMY IN UASIN-GISHU
Uasin Gishu County has given priority to key sectors of the economy in order to boost development progress and to transform living standards of its residents.
Under the leadership of H.E Jackson Kiplagat Arap Mandago, the devolved units is keen to ensure that the manifesto is fulfilled through quality and effective service delivery to the residents.
Among the key sectors that have received attention include agriculture which is classified as the backbone of the County and the Country’s economy.
Residents of the County rely on this sector as the main economic activity and it plays a pivotal role both in income generation and food security.
Initially, Uasin Gishu County was well known for maize, wheat and milk production but the trend has since changed as farmers diversify to other sub-sectors including horticulture.
Farmers have also adopted new technologies that have enhanced efficiency thus boosting productivity. More emphasis have been put directed towards supporting diversification , the County government taking a step to introduce new initiatives that targets specific groups of farmers.
“The free East African market has interfered with crop prizes and we realize that farmers are not really happy with the crop sector especially maize because they find they don’t benefit and as a County Government, we need to diversify the crops so that we just don’t do maize and wheat as we used to do before”, states Ms Victoria Tarus, Chief Officer, Department of Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries.
Shs.30 million has been set aside for horticulture and business strategy programmes for farming in the County, which has seen the establishment of nurseries in Chebororwa ATC. This is where farmers will get certified seeds for passion fruits, avocado and tissue cultured bananas. Others facing introduction include macadamia seeds and coffee.
The success of horticultural farming is expected to open the County to the international market which will in turn be a boost to Eldoret International Airport.
Through the Agriculture Department, the County has rolled out a programme dubbed Inua Mama na Kuku initiative, aimed at empowering women groups economically.
In its first phase, the programme benefited 15 women groups from each wards within the County, Each group receiving 100 chicks. This is after an intensive training programme that equipped them with managerial skills of maintaining chicken, record keeping among other key areas of empowering these women towards building their income.
In its second phase, the same initiative has seen the same number of women groups from each ward receiving 200 chicks which has seen the county factoring in Shs.25 Million for the initiative.
“Women make the good part of the Society and in a move to boost their economic livelihood, we decided to come up with this initiative and so far it has proved to be the greatest success in terms of growth and delivery of our intended goals since we have seen the fruits of the achievements as we have seen more than 90% survival of the chicks to fully grown chicken” says Dr. Cyril Cheruiyot, Executive in charge of Agriculture, Livestock Development and Fisheries.
According to Mrs Anne Letting, the Chairlady of Mwangaza Women group in Kipkenyo ward, the programme has seen to the growth of the group, boosting their livelihoods further boosting the financial capabilities and improving their managerial skills. Through the sale of eggs and the Chicken, Mrs Letting says they have been able to provide for themselves and their families.
The Department has also encouraged farmers to further embrace new technology to improve productivity and reduce the cost of production’ with the key focus towards improving breeds to livestock farmers.
Through these, farmers within the County can now access Artificial Insemination Services at an affordable rate of Shs.750 for the ordinary semen and Shs.2500 for the sexed semen. This has been easily achieved through co-operative societies.
“As a County government, we have subsidized AI services by 50% and we are urging the farmers to use these services because we have ensured that the prices are affordable and we are sure of great achievements and improved animal breeds which will improve the production”, Said H.E Mandago as he highlighted on the benefits of the service.
Through the support of the National Government, the County has set up a Nitrogen liquid plant which will improve the animal breeds. The support has further seen the County receiving 55 milk cooler plants for Co-operative Societies that will improve milk production.
The Co-operative societies will further help farmers get good market for their produce and subsidised costs of feeds for livestock and farm produce.
“We have undertaken capacity building programmes in 135 active Co-operative societies and revived 21 societies. In a move to boost the delivery of these Societies, for the last three years we have dispersed over Shs.170 Million to the help in the growth of the Co-operative societies”, noted Hon. Mandago.
In mitigation steps towards reducing and controlling diseases, the County Government has implemented vaccination programmes at a cost of Shs.13 Million that has seen the prevention of prevalent diseases like Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and Rabies. The County has also been working with neighbouring Counties like Elgeyo Marakwet, Nandi and Trans Zoia, to curb the spread of these diseases.
In the Fisheries sub-sector, the County has entered into a partnership with the University of Eldoret (UOE) in setting up an aquaculture at a cost of Shs.10 Million where fish farmers will get fingerlings at subsidized prizes.
In a bid to improving the livelihood of the youth in the County, The department released Shs.59.5 Million to 139 beneficiaries which will help the youth engage in agricultural activities across the wards in the County.