Nairobi, Thursday, June 13, 2017: Over 140,000 people in Kenya, 60% of them women, are set to benefit from a five-year EU funded programme, focused on strengthening the quantity, quality and marketability of cassava in the local and international market.
The Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Cassava Value Chain in Kenya programme launched today at the Panafric Hotel will help 28,000 small holder farmers in seven counties acquire clean, quality planting materials and improve productivity and marketability of the food crop.
Speaking during the launch of the programme, EU Head of Rural Development and Food Security, Klaus Gautsch said as a drought resistant crop, the cassava project will “help to address the need for sustainable food and nutrition security, strengthen resilience to climate change, create job opportunities and increase incomes for small holder farmers.”
The programme is being launched through a grant of up to 6.5 million Euro to create 5,600 new jobs and increase access to credit for to least 50% of farmers and businesses active in the cassava value chain, in the target counties of Kisumu, Homabay, Migori, Siaya, Busia, Kitui and Kilifi.
“We see a real opportunity for cassava farmers not only because they will be increase production for household cooking, but because this project will help to meet the growing demand for cassava products in the industrial food, beverage, livestock feed, and textile sectors,” Gautsch stressed.
He called for increased collaboration from target counties and the private sector to support county-level trade and business platforms and in the creation of a national level platform for cassava value chain actors.”
The programme seeks to increase average production for subsistence farmers from 2.5 metric tonnes per acre to 7 metric tonnes per acre and for pre-commercial farmers from 5 metric tonnes to 10 metric tonnes per acre.
Agriculture CS, Willy Bett commended the EU for supporting the cassava project saying it is in line with the agricultural sector goal of achieving an average growth rate of seven per cent per year through increased production levels. “This programme will go a long way in supporting our mission to ensure an innovative, commercially-oriented and modern agriculture by 2020 as stipulated in the Agricultural Sector Development Strategy (ASDS),” said Bett.
The programme is being implemented through Self Help Africa (SHA) in partnership with Rafiki Microfinance Bank, Rheal Solutions, Ugunja Community Resource Centre and Ustadi Foundation and TruTrade who are active in the target counties and have experience and expertise in addressing agricultural value chain barriers.
Self Help Africa Group CEO, Ray Jordan said the programme will ensure that cassava is no longer a poor mans crop by responding to needs, challenges and opportunities identified through three cassava Value Chain Analyses carried out in Nyanza, Western and Eastern regions in 2015 and 2016. “The action will increase average production levels for subsistence farmers from 2.5 Metric Tonnes per acre to 7 Metric Tonnes per acre and for pre-commercial farmers from 5MT/acre to 10MT/acre. It will also support increased access to markets by promoting linkages with medium, small and micro-enterprises working in upstream value chains.”
Mark Ireland, Head of East Africa Region for SHA said the programme will ensure that Cassava in Kenya competes favorably in pricing with cassava and its products in the global market and increase utilization of cassava starch in manufacturing in Kenya, including in the paper industry and in beverages.
Irish Ambassador, Dr. Vincent O’Neill said his government is supporting Irish Investors to do Business in Kenya in the livestock sector and the project that will enable the offtake of raw materials like cassava.
In a context where men typically make business and household decisions, a gender transformative programme approach will help foster joint decision-making by women and men within farming households.