State Launches Mobile Grain Dryers In Taita Taveta

Taita Taveta County has received mobile grain dryers from the National Government to assist farmers in mitigating post-harvest losses.

Agriculture and Livestock Development Cabinet Secretary (CS), Mithika Linturi, while launching the dryers, said the equipment comes in handy to ensure efficiency in drying grains to prevent post-harvest losses, while enabling the government in realising its vision of improving grain value chains and achieving food security in the country.

‘As a ministry, our main mission is to curb post-harvest losses mainly occasioned by unfavourable weather conditions, poor storage, and inadequate drying facilities during harvesting time,’ said Linturi at Voi NCPB during the launch, stating that each dryer has a capacity to dry 14 tonnes of maize in two hours and costing farmers Sh 70 to dry a 90kg bag of maize.

The CS who was accompanied by Taita Taveta County Governor, Andrew Mwadime, Crops Development PS, Paul Rono, Chairperson of the Agricultural Finance Corporation Board, Eng. John M
ruttu, Taita Sub-County Deputy County Commissioner, Maina Ngunyi, among other leaders encouraged farmers to utilise the mobile dryers to ensure that their harvests are well dried and stored to avoid post-harvest losses.

The machines tap power from a running tractor engine commonly referred to as power take-off (OTP).

He stated that post-harvest loss management has been a major challenge that farmers have been struggling with stating that, ‘We are now ready to start drying our grains as we promised because our main vision is to minimize post-harvest losses, and one of the ways to do this is by supporting our farmers to dry their maize and store it properly.’

The CS guaranteed farmers that the government is committed to supplying 12.5 million bags of subsidized fertilizer this year as per the analysis conducted in collaboration with the 47 county governments.

At the same time, Linturi launched the distribution of sunflower seeds under the edible oil promotion project by the national government.

He disclose
d that for every purchase of subsidy fertilizer, farmers will be given free sunflower seeds as the government seeks to boost sunflower farming aimed at increasing local production of sunflower oil and subsequently reducing importation of edible oils.

Apart from edible oil, the CS said that the sunflower’s by-products could also be used as animal feeds, hence boosting livestock production in the long run.

The CS said the government has stepped in to assist farmers in all sectors so that they can produce more.

While echoing the same sentiments, the Crops Development disclosed that the national government has donated about 16,000 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds for Taita Taveta farmers and urged them to make good use of the seeds to maximize production of the precious commodity in the region.

‘These 16,000 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds we have brought are very important in producing edible oils and as food for livestock after harvesting, please make use of them so that we can come back and buy these prod
ucts at a good price,’ said Rono.

On his part, the county governor thanked the national government for the speedy intervention stating that the fertilizer subsidies increased agricultural production and the grain dryers will go a long way in helping farmers reduce post-harvest losses.

Mwadime called upon the national government to consider the potential rice farming in the county stating that if well managed, the county is capable of producing more rice and become a national food basket.

‘If possible, add five more drying machines in this county because we have more produce especially in Taveta Sub-county that needs proper drying to prevent losses as a result of poor weather conditions and lack of grain drying equipment,’ said the Governor.

On Sunflower farming, Mwadime also echoed Linturi’s sentiments, advising the residents to embrace sunflower farming stating that apart from boosting edible oil production, the plants offer solution to human-wildlife conflict as elephants cannot feed or move closer to t

The governor disclosed that they were targeting 10,000 small hold farmers as beneficiaries of the program, noting that the county is already focusing on value addition of sunflower products by providing more hot-pressing machines for sunflower oil production.

‘We ask the state to support us in constructing more dams in the county so that farmers can get water for irrigation farming,’ said Mwadime.

His sentiments were echoed by the Taita Taveta County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock, Eric Kyongo who stated that the machines act as a game changer in the agricultural sector in the county.

He urged the farmers to diversify their farming and make use of the government’s subsidized fertilizers to boost their production.

Kyongo further noted that Taita Taveta has been championing sunflower farming and that the county is in an upward momentum to ensure that more farmers are registered under the programme in a move to increase production of edible oil.

Farmers and stakeho
lders present thanked the government for the grain dryers and commitment to support the agricultural sector, saying it will go a long way to boost food security and make Taita Taveta a potential food basket in the region.

On his part, NCPB’s Coast region manager Joseph Nzomo noted that the government has continued to supply subsidized fertilizers in the region, adding that there are over 3,000 bags of subsidized fertilizers from the national government across the county.

Source: Kenya News Agency