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Monday, 29 September 2014

CBO making a difference through dehydrated farm produce

By Bob Aston
The importance of value added agriculture has been on the increase as the practice of agri business is being adopted across the country. In Kinamba Division, Laikipia County, a community based organization (CBO) that was formed in November 2012 is making a difference in the region as they are adding value on farm produce. Ng’arua Community Development Initiative Forum is keen in ensuring that produce from the farms do not get spoilt.
“We are utilizing local resources and enhancing the quality of the local community through dehydrating farm produce. Through value added activities that we are undertaking the farmers are able to transform their economic base,” said Anne Mwithiga, the group’s chairperson.
Some of the products that the CBO is currently producing include; arrow root powder, sweet potato powder, dehydrated onions, cabbage, carrots, butternut and sukuma wiki. The group is also producing grain amaranth, body cream, natural honey, green leaf powder and bottled water.
Ann showing some of the products that the CBO has been producing
“Products like cabbages are perishable but once they are dehydrated they can last for more than five years,” said Anne.
The CBO has already registered more than 225 members. For one to join the group he/she requires to pay a membership fee of Ksh 200 while Self Help Groups require Ksh 1,500 to register with them.
Ann said that they decided to start dehydrating farm produce in order to reduce wastage during harvesting and when the market is flooded with particular farm produce. She expects that they will continue uplifting the livelihood of farmers.
She noted that the work that they are doing is mainly aimed at ending poverty. They are now planning to empower groups to start a processing industry. She said that transforming raw agricultural products into consumer ready goods requires lots of managerial expertise.
“We have also been training farmers on how to add value to their products in order to get more money. This has been through training them how to dry farm produce and on packaging,” said Ann.
Some of the challenges that they face include; high cost of value addition, lack of machines/equipments and lack of capacity building opportunities.
The CBO is now seeking certification from Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) to ensure that their products are up to standard. Ann said that the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI) helped them in processing their honey after they had taken a sample to them. The honey already had a standardization mark from KEBS.
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