No Future for ‘Feeding the Future’ programme

‘Feed the Future’ programme is not certain of support from the American people after indefinite termination of the funding of farming projects by the USAID.

Programmes like FEED THE FUTURE that ensured food security for the country, courtesy of the American government announced exit from the lower Eastern Kenya region which comprises four counties namely Machakos, Makueni, Kitui and Taita Taveta.

The Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprise Services (KAVES) was contracted by the USAID to oversee the implementation of farmers get training and material support.

The KAVES project began in 2013 under USAID courtesy of President Barrack Obama, where the project saw value chain addition for farmers produce to increase yield to cater for staple food supply, nutrition and wealth creation by commercial farming.

KAVES held a meeting with over 1000 farmers from the lower eastern region of Kenya in Mwala Machakos County on Thursday to share the sad fact.

Conspicuously missing from the final meeting with farmers at Masii open fields, were officials from the USAID or KAVES to address the farmers.

They addressed few officials of the farmers groups in a separate meeting, where the details of the meeting were not disclosed to the agitated farmers.

The agricultural directors present from the 4 county governments were tasked to convince farmers of the hard truth, saying they will talk to their chief executives and governors in their respective counties and device a way forward for the farmers’ projects.

Justus Ngui, a farmer from Kilili Makueni expressed his discontent for holding separate meetings were farmers stayed for long hours since 8 AM in the morning to 3 PM without any address by the organizers, who were held in a separate meeting and given a VIP treatment.

It was not until 4 PM when the farmers were fed with soda and toasts of bread.

Ngui complained that some farmers had come from as far as Kitui, Makueni and Taita Taveta, only to be treated with a bottle of soda and a toast of bread, which he described as unfair treatment and unhealthy diet.

The farmer wondered what their future was, since they have been left with no hope for future funding to sustain the projects that have been around for five years.

Similar discontent was expressed by Mbonge a farmer from Yatta who faulted the county government of Machakos for charging exorbitant rates for artificial insemination to get improved breeds of livestock as compared to Makueni County, where the fee is only Sh.300 unlike Machakos Sh7000.

Meanwhile, the Mwala Sub County Administrator, Peter Maingi confirmed that the Machakos county government was not in a position to till farmers lands with the earlier acquired tractors, neither is the provision of seeds by the government to the Machakos farmers.

Despite the discontinuation of KAVES, farmers have been urged to embrace farming as a career and a business.

Cyrus Wambua a farmer from Machakos said since introduction of KAVES project he has gained immensely from their trainings and market linkages, noting that the future is doomed since middle men and brokers will exploit local farmers.

He added that despite gaining knowledge on improved farming techniques for increased farm produce, the brokers will benefit more than the farmer since the market place is not regulated in the region.

A farmer from Kitui, Brenda Kasyoka Mwangangi lauded the KAVES project, saying she had benefited from new knowledge on weed and pest control, storage and preservation of her farm produce.

This enabled her and other farmers in her groups to sell their produce when demands are high therefore fetching better prices.

Stephen Kyonda, a renowned dairy farmer from Kathonzweni Makueni observed that the USAID had invited other investors to boost milk production in the region, but lacked an affordable piece of land in Machakos to erect a Sh.140 million milk processing plant.

They opted for the cheaper Sh.10milion livestock feed processing factory, where 18 groups of dairy farmers from Machakos and Makueni came together to form the Lower Eastern Dairy Farmers alliance.

Kyonda said the food processing factory was rated above Unga group in nutritional value when the Kenya Bureau of standards tested their produce.

He condemned the continuous introduction of dubious business people who produce substandard livestock feeds compromising the health of livestock to unsuspecting farmers who end up suffering huge losses.

The KAVES project mainly dealt with promotion of intake of nutritious staple foods in the region as well introduction and promotion of dairy farming, which is not commonly practiced in semiarid areas and horticulture all for food and wealth creation.

Source: Kenya New s Agency