EU to support Naivasha farmers access markets

A worker prepares roses for export at a Naivasha flower farm. /FILE
A worker prepares roses for export at a Naivasha flower farm. /FILE

The European Union has funded WWF Kenya Sh168.3 million to support horticulture farmers in Naivasha access ready markets and reduce post-harvest

William Ojwang, the program manager, WWF-Kenya incharge of the Africa Rift Lakes said through the

Green Horticulture at Lake Naivasha project, farmers will sign contracts with hotels within the area, hence ready market for their produce.

Ojwang said the four-year project notes the need for green business development in Kenya, and will help reduce post-harvest losses and attract youth to agriculture.

He said Lake Naivasha, which is the project area, is the hub of the Kenya’s cut flower industry. The area produces 70 per cent of the country’s floriculture production, a sector that overall contributes nearly 1.3 per cent of the country GDP and a lifeline to the local communities.

According to government statistics, the country earned Sh9 billion and Sh24 billion from fruits and vegetables on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively last year.

“Despite other enormous resources and importance, the basin is water scarce and under pressure from human related activities, among them unsustainable agriculture among small holder farmers, threatening provision of ecosystem services and undermining its resilience," said Ojwang.

He noted that inappropriate land use practices are slowing eroding the capacity of the upper and middle catchments to buffer against climate change.

“Base flow into the lake can no longer sustain lake levels during droughts, posing a significant threat to the sustainability of economic activities within the basin and therefore not only a matter of national concern but a real threat to livelihoods in the basin,”said Ojwang.

Caroline Njiru, the programme co-coordinator said most financial institutions demand for loan security before they engage farmers. But thanks to the project, women and the youth will be able to access finances and this will especially address lack of security/collateral in a widely patriarchal society for youth and woman to venture into agribusiness.
Njiru said for a long time brokers have taken advantage of farmers but this will change as farmers will only produce what the market wants. This will ensure good prices for their produce, protect farmers from exploitation by middle men and reduce post-harvest losses.

She said the project is working to empower 140 micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with 30 per cent youth representation.

“The youth will be empowered to sustainably produce for the market as a way to reduce post-harvest loss and increase income. The project also addresses lack of infrastructure problem by supporting MSMEs with the much-needed infrastructure like greenhouses and pack houses,” she said.

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