Sun. Aug 25th, 2019

GUSII STAR

Serving the rural People

Stalled banana factory angers Kisii farmers

5 min read

Kisii banana farmers are frustrated over delays by the county to complete a banana processing plant promised in 2013.saying  they are tired of empty promises.

The delay has left farmers at the mercy of middlemen who buy their bananas at half price.

In Bonchori, banana farmers appealed to  Governor James Ongwae to come to their aid.

John Omanwa from Riana said farmers were getting desperate and asked whoever was tasked to construct the factory to fast-track the project.

Former Masimba MCA Joash Orora said continued delay by the county was hurting farmers.

He said while fruit farmers in Makueni are already reaping from a fruit processing plant built by the county, in Kisii the farmers are being fed a “daily diet of empty promises”.

“That project was among the key development projects we discussed in the assembly and there was even a grant from the European Union meant to help in its construction,” the former ward rep said.

“Nothing tangible can be seen on the ground, painting a picture of lethargy.”

He said setting up a banana factory should not drag on for close to a decade.

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“Some farmers stopped planting other crops, others uprooted their tea plants and fell for bananas after they were promised that the factory was to be up soon and begin operations. These are the people that need all our sympathy because they are losing big,” Orora said.

He said avocado and fruit processing plants proposed by the governor in 2013 are yet to pick up with no word when they will be completed.

John Mogire began planting a variety of bananas in Nyangusu, Bobasi subcounty, following promises that the factory would be completed soon.

Mogire now accuses the county of capitalising on the aspirations of farmers to gain political mileage.

“The moment we heard that the county had begun working on the factory we were happy but our waiting soon turned into mourning,” he said.

Mogire said he went out of his way to get money for quality seedlings and planted them in anticipation of bountiful returns from sales to the factory. Six years later, nothing is forthcoming, he said.

Mogire told the Star that he may be forced to scout for new markets for his raw bananas in other regions. “It would have been better for them to finish the plant and then tell us to plant bananas.”

He said his efforts and those of other farmers are going to waste in the hands of middlemen who buy a bunch of banana at a half price.

 

Banana Vendors at Suneka Market

READ: Value addition key to banana farming in Gusii region

A Greek investor who had shown interest in avocado business left in frustration and left  his equipment on an open field at the Agricultural Training College after he failed to secure the right avocados.

Reached for comment, Agriculture executive Esman Onsarigo assured farmers of the county’s continued support.

Onsarigo said work on site at the plant is at its advanced stages and there should be no cause for alarm.

“We finally secured the Sh160 million from the EU and the project is near completion now. At first, there were issues with the contractor but now that is water under the bridge.”

He said the county wants investors to come on board and set up more processing plants, saying climatic conditions in the county favoured so many crops.

The Story was First Published at The Star

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