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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Dairy and maize value chain farmers strategize with Laikipia Governor

By Bob Aston
Laikipia County Maize and Dairy Value chain farmers held a meeting with Laikipia Governor Joshua Irungu at his homestead in Kinamba, Githiga Ward on July 24, 2015. The meeting was held to brief the Governor on the progress that the two value chains have made as well as deliberate on challenges and possible solutions in the two value chains.
During the meeting it was noted that the value of Laikipia County maize is approximated at 3.4 billion kshs and that the effect of Maize Lethal Necrosis Disease has not been reported in the County this season.
Governor Irungu noted that such forums are always useful as the County Government is able to know what farmers needs to be addressed. He said that Laikipia has enormous potential that needs to be tapped to ensure that communities improve their livelihood.
Governor Irungu addressing the two value chain stakeholders

 He said that most of the County economic pillars are related to Agriculture. He noted that the County Government is investing heavily in the dairy value chain and already 3 milk coolers with a capacity of 10,000 litres each have been given to dairy cooperatives while 3 more coolers with a capacity of 5,000 litres each will be given out soon.

“Most farmers have been involved in agriculture as a hobby instead of business. We have to embrace agribusiness as a County. We have to ensure that farmers do meaningful business and that as a County we are able to influence the maize market,” said Governor Irungu.
He said that plans are underway to get a hay balers for Muhotetu area. On the same sector the county government is also promoting dorper sheep breed in Laikipia North.
Mr. Waweru Kanja, Chairman Maize Value Chain Core Group informed the Governor that 43 Maize Value Chain groups in the County formed Laikipia Maize Value Chain Development Network with an aim of improving organization and co-ordination of the maize value chain in the County as well as championing the collective interests of the value chain players. This is towards enhancing a viable and equitable commercialization of the maize value chain.
Mr. Kanja noted that some of the issues that the County government needs to address include: late distribution of subsidized government fertilizer; lack of market for farmer produce; and lack of good cereals storage facilities in most parts of the County.
Others include: lack of collateral for smallholder farmers to access business funds; soil testing and training of farmers; lack of agricultural research facilities in the County; and involving agriculture stakeholders when preparing County budget.
He said that constraints in the maize value chain include: high post-harvest losses at an average of 30 percent; poor quality of inputs; high cost of inputs; low soil fertility; frequent droughts; wildlife conflicts; limited access to information; and low adoption of appropriate technology.
Other constraints include: limited accessibility to financial services; pest and disease incidents; poor infrastructure; and high cost of unskilled labour.
Governor Irungu posing for a photo with the two value chain stakeholders
He said that activities earmarked in the maize value chain this year and early next year include: to increase adoption of climate smart production by maize value chain actors including vulnerable groups; to increase equitable access to market; improving adoption of on-farm and community grain storage technologies; and to strengthen capacity of maize value chain groups.
On his part, Mr. John Kimani said that the dairy value chain with a membership of over 6,000 farmers is striving to support consistent supply of standardized branded quality hay from Laikipia County, reduction of spoilage and promotion of value addition of milk.
This year the dairy and hay value chain stakeholder’s are concentrating on capacity development of dairy and hay farmers, supporting development of business plans for farmers, undertaking waste disposal and management, supporting value addition and product development, training on dairy husbandry technologies and training on hay production, harvesting and storage.
Mr. Kimani said that challenges experienced by dairy farmers include: inadequate feeds; pest/diseases; poor quality inputs; fluctuation of milk prices; poor breeds; perishability of milk; and low adoption of existing technologies.
Others include: limited access to information; unpredictability of weather patterns; high cost of inputs; low value addition of milk; and inadequate access to finance.
He requested the county government to fast track operationalization of milk coolers that they had provided. He also requested the County government to support value addition, dairy exhibition day, support strengthening of the Laikipia Hay Company as well as helping to integrate youths in the dairy value chain by developing all the value chains as agriculture business hubs.
Governor Irungu promised that the County Government will address the issues addressed. He noted that some of the issues could have been addressed in the County budget if they had been raised earlier.

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