KENYA – Bidco Africa, leading consumer good company in East Africa has partnered with Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA) to launch a sunflower farming initiative dubbed ‘Tujiinue Tena’ in Igembe South, Meru County, Eastern of Kenya.
PACJA is a consortium of more than 1000 organisations from 48 African countries targeting to address climate and environmental challenges facing humanity and the planet.
The sunflower initiative targets more than 3,000 farmers in the semi-arid area to raise local production of sunflower to meet Bidco’s demand of 10,000 metric tonnes for oil production.
“We need 10,000 of sunflower for oil production. We are forced to import from Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi but if local farmers work hard, we will eliminate importation and plough back all the money in the country,”John Kariuki – Bidco head of agribusiness
According to reports by Business Daily, the edible oil manufacturer is ready to spend more than Sh120 million in buying sunflower seeds from the farmers as it races to plug a local supply deficit of more than 6,000 tonnes.
“We need 10,000 of sunflower for oil production. We are forced to import from Tanzania, Uganda and Malawi but if local farmers work hard, we will eliminate importation and plough back all the money in the country,” Bidco head of agribusiness John Kariuki said.
Under the initiative aimed to transform agri-business in Africa by enhancing rural prosperity through inclusive value chains, the farmers will have a dedicated agronomist to ensure optimum production.
The Kenya Seed Company is also in support of the venture as it has offered to provide seed at subsidised price of Sh150 per kilo.
Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Peter Munya welcomed the initiative saying it will go a long way in diversifying miraa farmers’ earnings.
Mr Munya said the government is looking for funds to construct a dam in Igembe South to enhance irrigated agriculture in semi-arid areas
In a bid to boost sunflower output from the region, the consumer goods company together with PACJA are mobilising farmers undertaking miraa growing, which has been met with hurdles following loss of key European and Somali markets, to do sunflower farming as a complementary venture.
PACJA executive director Mithika Mwenda, a climate justice activist said, “The sunflower farming project addresses most of the farmers’ challenges as it is drought resistant and has a guaranteed market from the manufacturer. This will support farmers to supplement their food, nutrition and financial sources.”
Bidco is also banking on local farmers to sustain the production of giant bamboo which it uses to power its production processes.
“We produce most of our energy internally using bamboo fuel. We are also encouraging more farmers to venture into bamboo farming,” Mr Kariuki said.
Bidco estimates that it may need up to 6,000 tonnes of bamboo wood every month to power its industries.
The multinational is also targeting to partner with more than 50,000 farmers for production of sunflower and soybeans.
In the dairy industry, Bidco through Bidco Land O’Lakes has joined a consortium of five companies to undertake a Ksh 37.5 million (US$ 350,000) dairy program to boost milk production and supply of nutritional dairy products.
The other companies include Corteva Agriscience, Land O’Lakes Venture37, Forage Genetics International (FGI) and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI Kenya).
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