Cashew nut farmers in Lamu are now looking forward to a promising future for their produce after the county government signed a pact with the Visegrad Group-V4 countries on Wednesday to ease market access.
This first-ever joint international development project of the V4 is in line with the ‘Global Visegrad’ priority of the Visegrad Group’s ongoing 2017/18 Hungarian Presidency.
The Lamu initiative is being implemented by the Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation-Slovak Aid together with V4 partner organisations.
They will actively engage the farmers in training, promotions and support of the project by providing their valuable expertise in respective fields.
The move is part of a EUR 2 Million project to help thousands of Kenyan farmers improve their social and economic conditions across three counties of Lamu, Kilifi and Kwale at the Kenyan coast.
The project was launched jointly by ambassadors of the four V4 nations of Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia and Poland in June 2018 and is already underway in Kilifi and Kwale counties.
Present were ambassadors Frantisek Dlhopolcek-Slovak, Jacek Bazanski-Polish, Pavel Rezac-Czech Republic and Hungary’s Head of Economic Section Zsolt Meszaros.
Also present was Director Ten Senses Africa-TSA Frank Omondi and Head of Projects David Ogiga.
The main aim of the project is to plant one million trees in total.
The key Kenyan partner organizations in the project TSA and Farm Africa will assist in the establishment of cashew seedling nurseries, capacity building for farmers on fair trade and organic certification while also focusing on agricultural value chains development.
Cashew nut farmers in Lamu have over the years complained of a lack of market for their produce owing to an export ban that has lasted over ten years.
The ban was introduced back in 2009 by then Agriculture Minister William Ruto with the sole aim of solidifying local cashew nut markets and reviving local industries.
The export ban forbids cashew nut farmers in Lamu from exporting and selling their crop to markets outside Kenya.
However, this new deal will also see the TSA purchase the cashew nut produce directly from farmers for processing in Kilifi factory.
Speaking when he met the envoys in Lamu town on Wednesday, Lamu Governor Fahim Twaha said the project will open up to 15,000 job creations for small scale farmers and also offer sustainable food security through increased organic production of cashew and sesame value chains, and finally, to increasing the export of these commodities.
He said the support is channelled towards food security, manufacturing and job creation, which are fully in compliance of the President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Agenda.
In a joint statement, the V4 ambassadors stated, “The success of this project will make farming an attractive business and career for young people by promoting agriculture and agribusiness also through adding a new processing capacity.”
TSA’s Frank Omondi said his organisation will seek to establish linkages with other actors of the value chain including service providers, buyers, processors and financial institutions for credit.