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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Sipili Cereal Bank makes strides in improving farmer’s welfare

By Bob Aston
High cost of fertilizer in Kenya has affected its use as most farmers have been unable to afford the input. In Sipili Division of Laikipia County, a Self Help Group (SHG) called Sipili Cereal Bank has decided to ensure that farmers are able to get subsidized government fertilizer by bulk purchasing and then selling to farmers.
Last week the group brought 600 bags (30 tonnes) of fertilizer worth Ksh 1,488,000 for farmers. They have now ordered three (3) tonnes consignment of maize seeds worth Ksh 300,000.
“The subsidized government fertilizer is Ksh 2,500 but we are selling at Ksh 2,800 because of the transport costs. We procured the fertilizer from the Kenya Seed Company Ltd at Nakuru so the cost of transportation had to be factored in,” said Joseph Mwati, the Chairman of Sipili Cereal Bank.
Maize drier at the Sipili Cereal Bank
Mwati also said that during a seminar held at Nanyuki the group met with representatives of Homegrown School Feeding Program (HGSFP) with a view of supplying food to primary schools within Laikipia County.
Mwati said that they got seed certification from Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate Services (KEPHIS) and they are now supplying certified hybrid seeds directly from the Kenya Seed Company Ltd. Various varieties of maize and beans are currently available in the store. They are also supplying subsidized government fertilizer.
The success enjoyed by the group has also come with a fare share of challenges. Transport cost has been a major hindrance to some of the projects undertaken by the group. Also lack of finance has deterred the group from venturing into other areas like dairy and horticulture farming.
“We are looking for a donor to build a water pan. We want to grow vegetables and also connect electricity in the Cereal Bank,” said Mwati.
The group has constantly been advocating for capacity building for its members. The members have been trained on Kilimo Biashara with an aim of encouraging them to plant well in order to get enough yields.
Mwati said that the group is planning to invite Pioneer Industries Limited, an organization engaged in processing and export of variety of cereals based products in order to form a partnership with them.
“We want to promote farmers in Sipili. We serve all the farmers here and it will be a big step if we will be able to eliminate middlemen here,” said Mwati.
Joseph Mwati, the Chairman of Sipili Cereal Bank said that they have managed to insure the warehouse and are now awaiting certification from the Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) to enable them get the Warehouse Receipt System.
“The warehouse receipt system has been a long process but soon we will be able to get it. We have been constantly meeting with EAGC with an aim of undertaking the requirements for one to be able to be certified with Warehouse Receipt System,” said Mwati.
Farmers in Sipili are now able to buy certified seeds from the cereal Bank and also a Co-operative operating in the area called Laikipia Produce and Marketing Co-operative Society.

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