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Maragua Farmers to benefit from solar cooled plant

By WANGECHI WAITHERA
The German investors with John Kamande at his organic farm in Maragua.

 

Farmers from Murang’a county are set to benefit from a Sh3.3 million solar cooled plant that is set to be established by a group of German investors.

The plant that will be established in Maragua area will help farmers, especially those engaging in horticulture preserve their produce before it is sold. Rachel Blair, a director at the Claimer Company said the plant will use the solar technology to make it cost effective for farmers saying electricity is expensive and unreliable.

Blair said many local farmers are forced to sell their produce to brokers at a throw away price as it wastes away in farms and occasions them huge losses. The cold plant will however enable farmers to store their harvests as they seek the appropriate markets and help them negotiate for better prices. She said the company started working on a solar powered cold store seven years and that it has just succeeded.

“We have managed to establish a solar cold store and we are happy to pilot it in Murang’a,” she said.

She noted that organic farming is a fast growing practice that is gaining support not only in the European Union but worldwide. The company, she added, to have made a stride that will help local farmers engage in farming more and make more money out of their toil.

“Such technology will be vital in the development of the agricultural sector in the country,” Blair said.

The investors appealed to the government to support their efforts to establish more similar projects locally. Murang’a South region, especially Maragua and Kandara is known for intensive horticulture farming that includes Mangoes, French beans and vegetables.

Mango farmers have been pleading with both national and county governments to establish a fruits processing plant that will regulate fruits’ prices. This is because majority of them incur huge losses during the mango season as brokers buy them at cheap prices while some of the fruits rot in the farms.

The investors had toured John Kamande Ngaruiya’s farm in Manyatta village which practices organic farming. Kamande who is a retired teacher said he started practicing organic farming in 2015 when he retired from his teaching career.

“So far, I can testify that organic farming is not only healthier but more beneficial that the conventional farming,” he said, adding that he sometimes regrets not starting it earlier.

Kamande’s farm has now become is farm has now become a demo farm, with many farmers visiting him to learn from his techniques. He has received visitors from as far as Uganda while companies interested to partner with him continue to troop into his farm.

Kamande has also had the opportunity to travel to Senegal, Uganda and several other African countries to widen his organic farming skills. He wondered why youths keep complaining about unemployment when they could employ themselves and others through farming. Crops such as sukuma wiki and many other horticultural crops can be grown on very small farm space, he added.

“A four square feet space can accommodate 30 sukuma wiki plants and provide a source of livelihood for a youth,” he said.

Margaret Wambui Ndung’u, farmer from Manyatta village told the investors that she has been able to support her family throught organic farming. Wambui learnt the practice from Kamande and has been able to triple her harvests and make more money.

“Previously, it was very discouraging to be a farmer because the harvests were minimal but organic farming has revolutionized our farms,” she added.

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