About 400 farmers in Ahero, Kisumu will benefit from a contracting farming scheme for the production of sorghum and green grams in a new farming diversification concept being introduced in the region that mostly grows rice.
This is part of the plans by the National Irrigation Authority (NIR) to expand the Ahero Scheme by 1,000 acres for crop diversification.
While Ahero Scheme is commonly known for large scale rice production, farmers are now being introduced to growing sorghum for the production of raw material for the East Africa Breweries Limited (EABL) plant in Kisumu.
At the same time, another set of farmers will be producing green grams for the European export market.
This project comes as a relief to farmers who recently incurred losses after River Nyando bursts it banks and destroyed paddy rice worth Sh810 million in April.
NIR Western Kenya Senior Scheme Manager Joel Tanui told the Nation that both sorghum and green grams will each be grown on 500 acres of land.
"In partnership with EABL and Cisqo Exporters we will start the scouting operations for farmers in Ahero by next week," said Mr Tanui.
"It is a new concept considering Ahero Irrigation Scheme is known for rice production. As part of the food security agenda we want to diversify and produce other types of crops," he stated.
Already the National Irrigation Authority is setting up water canals so that farmers can access water from the production of the cereals.
BUY BACK PRODUCE
According to Mr Tanui, the two companies will contract farmers by providing seeds and fertiliser and buy back the produce once ready it is for harvest.
"Green grams have a lot of potential in this region considering there is favourable climate and soil to support its farming. In addition, there will be a ready market once the produce is ready," he said.
With this initiative, Kisumu County will join green gram heavy weight producers in Ukambani, parts of Tharaka-Nithi, Kitui and semi-arid areas.
"We target about 400 tonnes of green grams for the export market. The export company will buy from farmers a kilo of green grams at Sh80," said Western Kenya NIR senior scheme manager.
In the next financial year, they plan to add another 1,000 acres for the production of soya beans.
"Oil producing companies such as Bidco have already shown interest in the production of soya beans in Ahero," said Mr Tanui.