Housing Sacco diversifies into lucrative agribusiness sector

Urithi Housing Cooperative Society Limited is well known on its endeavours to address housing challenges caused by the global recession that has constantly put a strain for majority to own assets like land and houses.

The Co-operative acquires land at negotiated low price and pass on the subsidized cost per unit to the members.

However, little is known about its venture into agriculture and fisheries. According to its chairman, Samuel Maina, Urithi has resolved to tap into agribusiness after realising that there was full potential in the sector, yet willing investors have limited options in regard to land availability and financing.

The cooperative has therefore seen an opportunity in the sector and has sought to bridge the gap by empowering small scale and low income earners to partake of the fast growing agribusiness sector, and Urithi is now among a crop of new entrants who sought to popularise their agricultural acumen, during the ASK Nakuru National show that opened its doors to the public on Tuesday this week.

The cooperative society has diversified its interests from just providing housing to also providing food solutions by enabling Kenyans who would want to undertake agribusiness, but had limited funding, by pooling resources together with other like-minded investors.

One of the products that the organisation is showcasing at the show is the Centre Pivot Technology that enables farmers get better yields by using irrigation to water their crops instead of relying on rain fed agriculture.

Centre-Pivot irrigation is a method of crop irrigation in which the equipment rotates around a pivot and crops are watered with sprinklers. It is a widespread used technology in countries such as United States of America and Europe but still a new technology of farming in African countries. This method covers up several acres of land in a very short period of time.

Urithi has taken a bold step of bringing together farmers upon the realization that the total cost of putting up the infrastructure runs into millions. According to Maina, it requires close to Sh.15 million to fully install the equipment.

The organisation has come up with a proposal that entails interested parties buying an acre of land at Sh.400,000 and then sign in a ten year contract that will see one going home with Sh.160,000 annually.

Maina believes that at the end of the 10 year contract, both parties will have recovered their initial investments and land owners have the option of continuing with the project or opting out.

Other benefits accrued to this package include the installation of the pivot farm machinery, commercial boreholes and reservoir drilling, installation of power and heavy-duty water pumps, a farm house, warehouse and management by experienced agronomist with a ready market for the harvested products.

Urithi Sacco sales manager Samwel Kanja noted that the project offered a huge opportunity for people who may or may not be farmers to invest and receive annual incomes from harvests.

We have an estimate of 1000 acres of land which we are selling at a price of 400,000 per acre which is inclusive of the cost of installing the pivot project. The buyers receive title deeds and estimated returns of 160,000 annually with additional bonus depending on the harvest that year.

The land is located in different parts of the country, with an ongoing mega project in Kilifi County, Kanja added.

Source: Kenya News Agency