The county government of West Pokot on Tuesday distributed more than 300,000 free coffee seedlings to farmers in the area,
The move is to empower farmers economically and shift focus from cattle keeping to cash crop farming, as it is known that the residents depend mostly on livestock for their livelihood.
The county government is putting in place projects to diversify sources of income through broadened agriculture practices that is geared towards empowering farmers through improved and modernized farming techniques.
Speaking at Murkwijit in Kapenguria constituency during the distribution, the county executive committee in charge of agriculture, Geoffrey Lipale said the pilot programme target more than 500 farmers each year, adding that by 2022 more than 30,000 hectares would have been covered.
Lipale observed that coffee do well in most parts of the county and their prices are stable compared to other food crops.
Farmers have been concentrating on planting maize, we want to train our farmers not only to depend on one crop because it can fail but encouraged them on diversification as it will help them earn more and improve their livelihood, he said.
He pointed out that his department has done soil testing in most part of the county and found that other cash crops like pyrethrum, tea, cotton and sunflower can do well in the area.
He pointed out that more than 165 agriculture extension officers have been deployed to the ground, saying the officers will assist farmers on the best way of planting the coffee crop.
However, the area Governor, John Lonyangapuo said focusing on coffee and other cash crop farming would help to alleviate poverty, hunger and illiteracy from the county as parents will have an alternative way of earning a living and educate their children.
We have been branded as cattle rustlers for so many years which have hampered the economic life of our people. The county wants to divert attention from not only keeping cattle but also growing of cash crop. Very soon will launch, banana, cotton, sunflower and sisal seedlings projects. He said.
The governor said his government is committed to help farmers acquire quality seeds that will boost production in addition to increasing coffee acreage in the region.
Source: Kenya News Agency