KENYA – Bidco Africa Group, one of the leading consumer good company in East Africa has rolled out a joint venture with the County Government of Nakuru, Central Kenya to promote adoption of commercial farming of oil crops among small holder growers within the devolved unit.

Bidco Africa Chairman, Vimal Shah stated that his company had contracted over 25,000 small scale farmers in Nakuru and other parts of the country to grow Sunflower and Soya beans.

“We link our contracted farmers to Kenya Seed Company and other renowned seed breeders and suppliers for best quality planting material that would yield optimum results for both the farmer and the company,” said Shah.

He said the company requires over 10,000 metric tonnes of Sunflower and Soya beans annually, but local farmers only supply an estimated 5,000 metric tonnes.

“Soya beans, sunflower and maize are the main raw materials in the manufacturing of liquid cooking oil. We need to encourage oil crop farmers to adopt market-oriented farming through precision planning and good agricultural practices,” said Shah.

The County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Dr. Immaculate Njuthe Maina noted that Kenyan manufactures of oil crop products are grappling with huge deficits in production of Soya beans and Sunflower.

“Key players who manufacture edible oils, have resorted to importing Sunflower and Soya beans from Tanzania and Uganda to sustain processing demand, nevertheless lack of a sustainable market for farmers needs to be addressed before farmers are persuaded to plant the oilseed crops.”

To address the pressing issue, Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS), Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Ann Nyagah said her ministry had formulated the crops (nuts and oil crops) regulations, 2019 aimed at streamlining oversight and better management in the sub sector.

“The regulations will promote value addition of various nuts and oil crop commodities through agro-processing while contributing to the realization of the manufacturing pillar and creating more jobs in the nuts and oil crops sub-sector.

Nyagah observed that full implementation of the regulations will guarantee oil crop farmers diverse market access and improved prices while ensuring that the growers and their organizations access quality planting materials and market information, enhanced advisory services and support.

Other investments undertaken by the edible oil manufacturer in the county include the KSh1.2 billion (US$12m) investment last year December, for the upgrade of an animal feed factory in partnership with American conglomerate Land O’Lakes to invest.

The joint venture expects the plant to have a processing capacity of 28 tonnes per hour, a move that will raise competition in the industry against existing players such as Unga Group.

The plant incorporates new technology to test every load of ingredients for quality (aiming for zero aflatoxins or other harmful elements) while ensuring the right mix of nutritional elements.

They utilize the soya cake, maize germ and sunflower cake obtained after oil extraction to create fortified animal feed products.