The County Government of Migori has officially operationalized the Getong’anya Sweet potato processing plant in Kuria following years of stagnation after commissioning.

The project which cost Sh110 million will be a big boost to the sweet potato farmers who have for a long time experienced blackmails from middlemen as they look for a market for their farm products.

Migori County is the second largest producer of sweet potatoes with over 10,000 hectares of land under cultivation of the cover crop after Homa Bay which has 24,268 hectares of potato plantations in Nyanza.

Governor Ayacko

Speaking at the launch of the project, Migori County governor, Dr Ochilo Ayacko said that the project is a relief to the sweet potato farmers who have been counting losses due to lack of ready market.

“Our aim by launching this great project is to end the losses that our farmers have been experiencing due to challenges of accessing the market,” he said.

Ochilo also vowed to ensure that farmers get prompt payment which will be according to the inputs they will use in producing the sweet potatoes.

Apart from the 300 workers employed here directly, the factory also employs other 5,000 people indirectly, which is a positive number for the start

Governor Ayacko

With the processing ability of 100 tonnes of potatoes per day, the factory will now process loads of potatoes from all the farmers within the county and neighbouring counties.

Leading producer

Migori County is the second largest producer of sweet potatoes with over 10,000 hectares of land under cultivation of the cover crop after Homa Bay which has 24,268 hectares of potato plantations in Nyanza.

With the support of the European Union which contributed Sh7.07 million to the Sh110 million from the County government, governor Ochilo strongly believes that farmers’ livelihoods will change positively.

This apart from ensuring faster access to the market for farmers, Ochilo noted that already 300 workers have been employed in the factory and are now earning a living.

With this mighty investment in the department by the governor, I am open to partnerships from various development agents in order to further ensure that our farmers benefit

Lucas Mosenda

“Apart from the 300 workers employed here directly, the factory also employs another 5,000 people indirectly, which is a positive number for the start,” he noted.

In Migori County, Kuria is the largest producer of the crop with over 6,000 farmers who produce about 0.3 tonnes of sweet potato per year.

waking the Sleeping giant

According to Lucas Mosenda, the Chief Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock and Blue Economy, the factory is set to revamp the county into an agricultural giant.

Mosenda who also spoke at the event, said that his department was open to partnership with development agencies as a way to work better ways for farmers in the County.

“With this mighty investment in the department by the governor, I am open to partnerships from various development agents in order to further ensure that our farmers benefit,” he said.

Sweet potato farming had become extinct in most parts of the county due to a lack of a ready market, which made the farmers to be manipulated and exploited by the middlemen.

According to Irene Wekesa, a farmer who spoke to us, most of the farmers were forced to pay the middlemen using sacks of sweet potatoes, a situation which reduced the actual income.

Ready market

Wekesa added that they were forced to sell at low prices because of fear of leaving the potatoes to rot in the sacks.

“For a long time before the factory was brought, most of us had given up on sweet potato production because of the low prices and the exploitative middlemen,” she said

However, with the start of the industry by the County government, Wekesa has now learnt new farming skills which she now used to add value to the crop, as well as sell them at good prices.

She says that through this, she has been able to single-handedly school her two daughters in secondary school despite being a widow.

For her, it is an end to the long-awaited freedom for most sweet potato farmers who can now smile due to good income.

“Since the start of this factory, most of us have greatly benefited. For me, it is the end of the long wait because most of us now have access to the market and we do not need the middlemen.

Chacha Mwita who has 3 hectares of his land under sweet potato cultivation said that he has been able to lease part of his land for farmers at fair prices as compared to before.

According to him, the exclusion of the middlemen has been a great sigh of relief as it was the greatest obstacle to farmers who had to part with a good amount of cash for them to sell their products.

“The middlemen would demand for more money from us without any objection because they were well connected to buyers,” explained Chacha.

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