Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa led a delegation from the county government of Migori and the European Union to the official opening of the Getonganya Sweet Potato processing Factory in Kuria West, Migori County.
The processing plant becomes the first of its kind to be opened in the region after the completion of its construction, which was funded by the Ministry of Devolution and the European Union grant.
The plant worth 117milion is expected to process over 100 tons of sweet potatoes daily allowing farmers to expand production in the area.
The county was to provide Sh10 million and ground implementation logistics while the EU granted Sh107 million for the construction of factory structures, purchase of processing machines and capacity building of sweet potato value chain stakeholders.
During the commissioning, CS said that the plant is one of the idea programs among other 15 projects across the country that the devolution ministry is looking at towards the realization of the big four agenda of food security and manufacturing.
He added that through a partnership with local leadership especially of county governments the government is striving towards value addition to areas with the potential, to create employment and also enhance food security.
Migori is listed as the second-largest producer of Orange-fleshed sweet-potato (OFSP) with 11,312 hectares under cultivation, following Homa Bay County the leading producer with an area of 24,268 hectares under the production of the OFSP.
Kuria region produces close to 0.3 million tons of sweet potatoes per year with an estimated 6, 500 farmers involved in the production.
Therefore the construction and opening of the sweet potato processing plant is seen as a boost to potato farmers from Kuria who has failed to get a sustained market for the product.
Over the years, sweet potato production in Migori has been largely unattractive and on a small scale due to a lack of market.
Brokers had also taken advantage of the lack of market to exploit the farmers.Migori Governor Zachary Obado noted that the opening of the plant will not have an economic impact on the people of Migori only but also the entire Nation.
Obado urged farmers in the county to embrace sweet potato planting in large numbers to benefit from the ready market that is within reach.
With the completion of the factory construction, the Migori governor said that the county has met its objective of contributing to the socio-economic development of the Migori community by enhancing value addition through sweet potato processing for improved income and employment creation.
The county government has also strengthened 400acres at the lower Kuja meant for sweet potato seeds.
By Basil Okoth