Kericho Farmers Start Direct Exports to European Market

Kericho farmers will start direct export of agricultural produce to the European Union after the governor struck a deal with a UK-based company.

Sacoma

Sahara Communities Abroad (Sacoma) will buy coffee, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, bananas and sorghum from Kericho small-scale farmers.

Sacoma CEO Perez Ochieng’ said there is a huge market in Europe as demand for sweet potatoes is 120 tonnes weekly and Sacoma only manages to buy five to 10 tonnes from sub-Saharan Africa.

“We realised that people from Africa have the ability to feed Europe and so we set up a market that will buy primarily from small holder farmers,” she said.

Ms Ochieng’ said Kenyan farmers have a better chance in the EU market as their food is organic compared to their counterparts who grow GMOs.

Sweet potatoes damaged while harvesting will be preserved using a new technology. Sacoma will pay Sh35 per kilogramme of sweet potato compared to Sh15 in the local markets.

The county governor Paul Chepkwony assured Ms Ochieng’ that although the volumes required by Sacoma seemed huge, farmers are determined to supply whatever quantity was required.

“Our farmers will never let you down. I am happy that value addition will be done here. Sorghum for export will be ground here in Kericho and we will be an example to other counties on how produce can be packaged and exported,” Prof Chepkwony said.

He was speaking in Koiyat Village where he launched the construction of a sweet potato packaging factory, with an initial funding of Sh800,000 to start off the project.

Prof Chepkwony said the products exported to the European Union will be labelled ‘Produce of Kericho County.’ He urged farmers to produce quality food to meet EU export standards.

Prof Chepkwony struck the deal with Ms Ochieng’ while in London last year where they held talks on expanding markets for local farmers.

Ms Ochieng’ said Sacoma aims to empower small-scale farmers across sub- Saharan Africa. Prof Chepkwony said he plans to extend the export business to neighbouring counties, starting with Bomet County.

– Business Daily