The Nyanza region is a part of Kenya that is not famous for aggressive commercial agriculture ventures. Save for sugarcane farming in Kisumu and Migori Counties, subsistence farming has been the mainstay in a region that is brimming with potential due to its predictable weather patterns and rich soils.
Enter Kisumu Women Representative Rose Nyamunga, the first term legislator who has embarked on a mission to turn her home turf into a leading food producer through a series of simple yet powerful agribusiness opportunities targeting women and youth who for decades have suffered the worst effects of poverty and marginalization.
In Kisumu City she has launched an aquaculture demonstration center in partnership with Tich Kouma Community Based Organization. The demonstration center aims at re-establishing Kisumu’s dominance as a fish-producing county after water hyacinth infestation reduced Lake Victoria’s output.
Joshua Owuor, the Project Manager, expressed optimism regarding the project that was launched this year in the county.
We have catfish and tilapia which are the most popular species in the region. We hope to begin fingerling harvesting by August with our target clients being the youth and women groups that operate ponds scattered across Kisumu County, said Joshua Owuor
The demonstration center located in Nyalenda Kapuothe within Kisumu Central, has 10 ponds that can hold 16 thousand fish. Hon Nyamunga hopes to increase the numbers to have a constant supply of fish fingerling that can sustain a thriving fish trade in the county.
In 2008, the then Finance Minister now President Uhuru Kenyatta, launched the Economic Stimulus Program to boost the economy after the post – election violence left Kenya on its knees. Among the projects that Kisumu benefited from was the construction of more than 2300 ponds for fish farming.
However, nearly 1900 ponds remain dormant after supply of appropriate fingerling became a problem at the time. It is these ponds that Ms Nyamunga wants revived before the end of her term in 2017.
County Coordinator Ges Kotolo says that Kisumu County Women Representative big plan is to come up with a strategy for the Kisumu County to get fingerlings for the ponds that had been left to dry up so that they can start growing fish for food security in the county.
We want to ensure Kisumu residents have access to fish fingerling at subsidized rates that they can afford. We had ponds through the ESP but they either didn’t receive fingerling, got the wrong types or got the wrong sizes. We therefore decided to rejuvenate the program by starting this project. The main aim is to ensure food security in Kisumu County which imports more than half its food while also helping individuals and communities to make money as producers, Katolo County Coordinator said.
The center that sits on six acres of wetland near Lake Victoria is also home to Nyamunga’s second project: tree farming. The Farm has more than 5 thousand trees of various types including hardwood and softwood and is set to become the leading source of seedlings for farmers who conduct tree farming and reforestation across Kisumu County.
In her demonstration centers there are tree nurseries that has that has a lot of tree seedlings that benefits people to go green in the tree planting to help cover the soil which many traders in Kisumu and outside has numerously benefited from.
The tree nursery manager Sam Olum says they receive orders from numerous clients around the region with some customers ordering as much as 20 thousand trees and flowers at once.
We sell them according to the size and the quantities ordered. But the minimum we charge is Sh5 for the youngest seedlings. We have both hard and softwoods with gravellier and casuarinas being the most popular, Olum said.
Just like in the fish farming project, the cost of tree seedlings are subsidized and provided to women and youth groups that are engaged in reforestation across the county.
But the most ambitious project that the legislator has initiated so far is an egg hatchery located in Nyando Constituency.
In the project she spent her own money to purchase 10 egg hatcheries that have the capacity to produce 40 thousand chicks per month her aim with the project is to boost food security and wealth creation.
We want each rural household to have chicken and to produce eggs, in the fullness of time we target to produce up to 1 million chicks every week for local rearing and for sale, this will stop the money drain to Uganda which supplies 90 per cent of the eggs consumed in Kisumu and create food security, once we are food secure we will go into wealth creation and kill two birds with one stone” Rose Nyamunga Women Representative Said
The hatchery supplies youth and women’s groups around the county with Kienyeji chicks. Once fully grown, the chickens lay more eggs that farmers bring to the hatchery for processing at a cost of KES. 20 as opposed to the national average price of day old chicks being KES. 50.
They then rear the chicks to produce more eggs in a cycle aimed at spreading chicken among the women and youth groups, creating a spiral of increased chicken rearing across the county.
Grace Anyango, the Hatchery coordinator says that they on many cases deals do a lot of business with the people of Kisumu and other from different areas,We mostly deal with clients on order, most farmers come from within Kisumu County but we also get people from places like Nairobi and Mombasa, said Anyango.
Luckily for Nyamunga, the National Assembly in June approved legislation that will provide each of the women representatives in the 47 counties with funds to conduct projects based on the number of constituencies they represent. In Nyamunga’s case she will have KES. 49 million in the 2015/16 financial year, a welcome boost that will reduce her reliance on personal resources for Kisumu County project.
By Kisumu News Reporter.
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