Kirinyaga tomato farmers set to benefit from an upcoming seedlings propagation center

Tomato farmers in Kirinyaga County are set to benefit from a modern seedlings propagation center that is being constructed by the County Government.

Governor Anne Waiguru says construction of county automated seedlings propagation unit in Kangai area of Mwea West is expected to be completed by the end of this financial year.

Waiguru said the project will effectively address the longstanding challenges that the local farmers have been facing when it comes to sourcing of high quality and affordable seedlings.

Kirinyaga is one of the leading horticulture producer in the country. It is the leading producer of tomato, with an annual production of about 116,431 tons which has been steadily rising from the 46,594 tons produced in 2017.

Construction of the state-of-the-art facility signals a major boost in agricultural productivity in the region.

“Kirinyaga being a rural county, we have Wezesha as our version of the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). Through diversified agricultural activities, we are empowering small-scale farmers to produce more and earn more from agriculture thus improving their standards of living,” she said.

The governor said the seedling propagation center will provide farmers with high yielding and disease tolerant tomato seedlings so to increase production and lower cost of farming.

She said the center is part of her elaborate plan to position the county farmers as the major beneficiaries of the upcoming Sagana Agro-Industrial Park where farm produce aggregation centers and processing factories are being put up.

“Availability of the facilities will enable farmers reap more from value addition and will save them from produce post-harvest losses. By and by, these interventions are aimed at improving the living standards of the county farmers,” she added.

Dr. John Gachara, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary & Fisheries, said that the flagship project will contribute to increased tomato production in the area as well as other horticultural crops whose seedlings will also be propagated at the center.

“The price of seedlings has been on the rise, growing from Ksh.9 to Ksh.15. With the establishment of this center, farmers will have access to quality seedlings at a subsidized price, enabling them to maximize their profits.” Said Dr. Gachara.

He said that Governor Waiguru has been very deliberate in her efforts to support farmers increase productivity enabling them to earn better incomes thus improving their standards of living.

Tomato farmers are looking forward to the completion of the seedling propagation center saying that due to its close proximity, it will save them the hustles associated with sourcing for quality and genuine seedlings.

“We used to buy seedlings from distant locations thus incurring transportation expenses. Now, with reduced prices and convenience, we can allocate the saved funds to purchase more seedlings and other essential farm inputs.” said Wilson Muriuki, a local farmer.

His sentiments were echoed by Karani Gitari, who noted that the construction of the propagation center by the county government will be a game-changer in terms of cost efficiency.

“We will save a lot of money previously spent on transportation to acquire seedlings. With assured quality and subsidized prices, we can enhance our profitability,” he said.

Natalia Muriuki, another tomato farmer in Kangai, said that it was increasingly becoming difficult for farmers to access quality seedlings due to high transport cost caused by rise in fuel prices.

“Having this propagation center nearby will mitigate these costs, ensuring affordability and accessibility of seedlings for farmers like me,” she said.

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