By Patrick Nyakundi – Kna Makueni
The Makueni county government will construct a grain processing plant at the Makindu Show Grounds at a cost of sh 168 million.
Governor Professor Kivutha Kibwana said the plant will support the value addition chain of grains and pulses production in order to boost food security in arid and semi arid county.
He further said that the plant is expected to increase returns to farmers through value addition activities such as cleaning, sorting, grading and packaging.
Prof. Kibwana made the announcement last week at Kwakathoka where he delivered a State of the County Address to the Members of the County Assembly and the people and also gave progress report made by his government.
“The construction of the plant will be possible through a grant from the World Bank given through the Kenya Devolution Support Programme (KDSP).
“It is expected to lead to an increase in earnings to our farmers and increase production of grains bearing in mind that we are number two nationally in green gram production behind Kitui County. The plant is expected to ready before the next harvest,” he said.
On poverty, the governor said that his government had been able to eradicate poverty from a high of 60.6% in 2013 to 34.8% 2015/16 based on the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS).
However, he attributed the reduction in poverty levels to proper implementation of projects that impacted positively on the lives of the residents of Makueni during the past five years.
”This is a clear demonstration of the improved welfare of our citizens. We will endeavour to ensure the livelihoods of citizens are secured and sustained in line with the United Nations Sustainable development goals (SDGs) clarion leaving no one behind in the shackles of poverty,” said the governor.
Among the progress made included the universal health and Makueni Fruit Processing plant that has processed 1,800 metric tonnes of fresh mango into 860 metric tonnes 0f puree.
Other achievements include the Kikima and Kathozweni milk that process 300 and 1000 litres of milk per hour respectively besides investing in dairy farming where 6,634 artificial insemination was administered during the year and over 2,000 farmers were trained on feed, pasture development and disease control.
On the youth, Kibwana said that his government was keen on providing opportunities to the youth to integrate them into government processes.
“We have been working on a Makueni Youth Empowerment Programme (MYEP) which, if approved by the executive committee, will be a blue-print for youth engagement and empowerment in the county. The programme aims at ensuring all county departments integrate the youth in their activities. The programme undertakes to the youth in skills that empower them socially, economically and politically,” said Kibwana.
At the same time, he disclosed that his government had collaborated with Youth and Success Association that empowers girls in sciences, technology and mathematics and Emerging Leaders Foundation that trains the youth on leadership.
On his part, Senator Mutula Kilonzo said that there was need to protect devolution saying there were individuals out to reduce monies to counties by 9 billion which would deny Makueni County sh 250 million.
In another development, he called on the county government of Makueni to ensure every single coin used on projects added value for money.