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Farm Africa kicks off construction of a vegetable pack house in Trans Nzoia County

28 October 2020

Farm Africa kicks off construction of a vegetable pack house in Trans Nzoia County

Farm Africa has begun the construction of a vegetable pack house in Cherangany, Trans Nzoia County, Kenya, to make it easier for smallholder farmers to market their fresh horticultural produce and reduce post-harvest losses.

The construction of the pack house has been made possible by a two-year funding extension by retailer Aldi UK to support Farm Africa’s Growing Futures market initiative, which supports young farmers in rural western Kenya to build resilience to climate change and improve the quality of their fresh produce destined for both export and domestic markets.

The packing centre, which is the only one of its kind in Trans Nzoia County, will see increased packaging efficiency and reduce the transport costs incurred by export buyers delivering fresh produce to Nairobi.

The pack house will be powered by solar technologies such as vegetable cooling systems, irrigation kits, ventilators, water pumps and around the clock surveillance cameras to ensure smooth operations. These will be handed over to Pamoja Twaweza community-based organisation (CBO), which will be in charge of the facility.

In addition to the employment opportunities that will be created by the pack house to the local community, the smallholder farmers will also be able to use the premises to pack grade two produce for the local market.

‘We are happy to kick off the construction of this pack house in Trans Nzoia County. We have witnessed a high level of production among the smallholders taking part in the Growing Futures initiative. This facility will go a long way in helping the farmers to capitalise on these gains by improving the quality of their produce and driving up the prices received for their produce,’ said Mary Nyale, Kenya Programmes Manager for Farm Africa.

Luke Peech, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said: “Farm Africa does vital work to improve the prospects of farmers in Western Kenya and we’re incredibly proud of our partnership with them. The pack house will help transform the local agricultural community, providing an affordable and sustainable way to protect local farmers’ produce that simply wasn’t available before.”

Farm Africa will support the CBO in areas such as construction of the facility, market and financial linkages as well as providing market information and promoting collective marketing so as to improve the community’s bargaining power.

The Growing Futures initiative provides the skills needed to improve production of high value crops and linkages to commercial buyers and financial platforms. The smallholders have been trained in multiple value chains in vegetable farming so as to enhance income diversification.

With climate change affecting the frequency of rain, the market initiative is training farmers on the use of solar powered water pumps as opposed to using petrol or diesel-powered pumps to irrigate their farms so that they can cut costs, leading to a greater return on investment and a reduction in their environmental impact.

Training in post-harvest handling will help the young farmers to improve their processes and ensure adherence to market needs, while knowledge in climate-smart agriculture will boost their resilience to unpredictable weather and guide them in the sustainable use of organic manure as well as the safe use of recommended chemicals and crop protection products.

Over the course of a three-year phase of the Growing Futures market initiative funded by the Medicor Foundation, which ended in June 2020, the annual household income of the 2,400 participants rose by a resounding 67 percent from Ksh 34,522 in 2018 to Ksh 57,746 in 2020. Cumulatively, Ksh 299 million was generated over the project period from the sale of export vegetables.

Aldi started working with Farm Africa in 2016, donating over £260,000 over three years to support 500 young farmers in Trans Nzoia County in Western Kenya. In 2020, Aldi extended their support to these and other farmers for another two years.