Bidco Africa, Kenya Wildlife Services engage in sunflower farming in pursuit to end Human-Wildlife conflict

KENYA – Kenya’s leading producer of consumer goods, Bidco Africa has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS), aimed to tackle Human-Wildlife Conflict (HWC) among communities living adjacent to protected areas through sunflower farming and beekeeping.

Under the agreement, Bidco will avail an offtake market for all the sunflower produced ensuring prompt payment to farmers.

In addition, they will undertake training and sensitization on sunflower farming to communities through a partnership with organizations such as Kenya Commercial Bank Foundation.

KWS on the other hand will identify appropriate areas for the project and pilot it before scaling to other regions which experience serious Human Elephant Conflict across the country.

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The initiative will first be undertaken in Loitoktok sub county in Kajiado County, an area surrounding Amboseli National Park ecosystem.

“Human Wildlife Co-existence will be amplified if communities have a sense of ownership, and benefit from proximity to wildlife,” KWS Director General (DG) Brig (Rtd.) John M. Waweru said.

The parties choose the cultivation of sunflower as it is not attractive to the giant land mammal as a food source, thus planting it would uplift the community’s livelihoods and lower HWC incidents.

The sunflower seeds produced will be fed to Bidco’s Nakuru processing factory to manufacture edible oil and the cake will be utilized for feed production.

“Human Wildlife Co-existence will be amplified if communities have a sense of ownership, and benefit from proximity to wildlife.”

KWS Director General – Brig (Rtd.) John M. Waweru

According to BIDCO Group Director Chris Diaz, the company’s biggest objective is to work with communities, adding that their agribusiness-driven project has a membership of 30,000 farmers who are involved in sunflower and soya farming, supplying its factories.

John Kariuki, Head Agribusiness Development at Bidco, said that the project comes at a unique time, when most farmers are reeling from the effects of Covid19, stating there is already a technical staff in Amboseli working with the team there.

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Dickson Lesimirdana, KWS deputy director in charge of devolution and community service revealed that nearly 300 farmers have been mobilized to plant sunflowers at the onset of the rainy season in March.

For bee-keeping, KWS made a passionate appeal on behalf of the communities, requesting partners to consider providing beehives due to financial constraints on the ground.

In response to KWS’ request, Mr. Diaz said that the manufacturing giant would have a discussion with other stakeholders, to provide the beehives.

The signing of the MoU comes days after Bidco entered into an understanding with Kenyan public university Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) that will see the two organizations collaborate on strategic fronts including agricultural research, innovation, technology transfer, entrepreneurship and the general improvement of agriculture and food security in the country.

Under the partnership, Bidco will provide research platforms, provide linkages and point out opportunities available in the private sector for capacity building and technology development and transfer.

On the other hand, JKUAT will use its innovation and research expertise to offer guidance to Bidco Africa, as it seeks to expand some of its flagship initiatives in terms of agricultural research, adoption of new technologies, food fortification, and their work with Soya and Sunflower farmers across the region.

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