Farmers in Kakamega are set to benefit from ongoing grants provided by the county government. One particular cooperative society, the Kakamega Sweet Potato Cooperative Society, is expected to play a crucial role in the success of sweet potato farming in the region.

According to Anglican Development Services, Western CEO, Stephen Amusala, the organization has been involved in the sweet potato food chain for the past 10 years and has been spearheading efforts to commercialize the crop and add value to it.

Anglican Development Services Western (ADS Western) has also been actively involved in the commercialization of the sweet potato food chain and was instrumental in the formation of the Kakamega Sweet Potato Cooperative Society.

This cooperative was formed to ensure that farmers have a common market and can realise unified gains. However, there are still challenges that need to be addressed, such as meeting the market demand throughout the year and the establishment of aggregation centers for the cooperative.

To address these challenges, an app called Viazi Tamu has been developed to provide farmers with access to various resources related to sweet potato farming. The app aims to facilitate market linkages and improve the overall marketing dynamics.

Additionally, efforts are being made to build a farmer network and mobilize farmers to participate in the cooperative.Currently, ADS Western has initiated a project whose main goal is to increase productivity and income among 3600 farmers in 5 sub-counties, including Mumias East, Mumias West, Matungu, Butere, and Navakholo. The project also aims to empower and capacity build cooperative society members, provide e-marketing opportunities, and establish agreements and partnerships with logistic companies for easier transportation.

During the project implementation, activities such as sensitization, recruitment, training, and equipping of personnel will take place. Compliance is also seen as a significant issue among cooperative societies, and efforts will be made to address assumptions among society leaders and members

.Various stakeholders are involved in the sweet potato value chain, and they will be key in ensuring the project goals are achieved, they include ADS Western, financial institutions, Kalro, Kephis, media outlets like Lubao FM, and government officials such as sub-county agricultural officers and cooperative officers. Off-takers and transporters are also important players in ensuring the success of the sweet potato market.

The Kakamega county government has recognized the potential of sweet potato farming and allocated funds in the financial year to support agriculture in the region, particularly sweet potato farming.

With the ongoing efforts by stakeholders and the allocation of funds by the government, farmers in Kakamega are hopeful that they will be able to increase productivity, income, and market access. The sweet potato industry has the potential to contribute to food security and economic growth in the region.

The Kakamega Sweet Potato Cooperative Society is also exploring opportunities for partnership and collaboration with other value chain players to further enhance the market access and profitability of sweet potato farming. They are in discussions with financial institutions to provide access to credit facilities for farmers, which will enable them to invest in improved farming practices and technologies.

Furthermore, the cooperative is leveraging media platforms, such as Lubao FM, to highlight the available opportunities in the region and showcase the success stories of farmers involved in sweet potato farming. This not only creates awareness among potential buyers but also serves as a marketing tool for the cooperative, attracting more farmers to join the society and participate in the sweet potato value chain.

As the project enters its implementation phase, the Kakamega Sweet Potato Cooperative Society, along with the support of ADS Western and other stakeholders, is committed to realizing increased productivity and income for farmers. By addressing challenges, building farmer networks, and leveraging market opportunities, the cooperative aims to strengthen the position of sweet potato farming as a viable and profitable venture in Kakamega County.

The county’s climate action plan and financial allocation further demonstrate the commitment of the government to support and promote agriculture, contributing to the overall development of the region.

By Wycliffe Andabwa

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