By Stanley Mwahanga
The County Government of Kilifi, Jiangxi Jianglian International Engineering CO LTD (JLIANCO) and Kenya Agribusiness and Agro-industry Alliance Limited (KAAA) have signed a Sh 2.5 billion contract to establish the first ever Agro Food park in East and Central Africa.
Kilifi Governor, Amason Kingi together with JLIANCO Vice president Yang Yugang, and KAAA Chief Executive Officer, Lucy Muchoki signed the deal at the Kilifi County headquarters which once operationalized will see more than 200,000 local farmers access direct market for their goods within and outside the country.
The tripartite agreement involves the setting up of a fruit processing plant, that will concentrate in handling horticultural produce and vegetables. Over the long term, the establishment of the Agro food park will result in an economic transformation and increase employment for the people of Kilifi County by providing a market for an estimated 200,000 farmers and creating 5,000 direct and 20,000 indirect employment opportunities.
Moreover, local farmers from across the county will benefits from training and access to farm inputs, as well as extension services from the Kenya Agribusiness and Agroindustry Alliance to make sure they produce enough raw materials necessary to sustain the running of the plant.
The initiative is a follow up to the recently concluded Kilifi County International Investment Conference and has been supported by the County Government as it aligns with the County’s Vision of establishing ‘’An innovative, commercially-oriented and modern Agriculture and Rural Development Sector’’
Governor Kingi indicated that deal will transform the county fortunes by growing the county’s economy by boosting farmers income and county revenue.
The Kilifi Agro Food Park will provide a facility that will transform the economy of the county through creating better integrated value chains which result in greater value addition to farm produce, boosted income of farmers, lower post-harvest losses, reduced price volatility and increased exposure to more efficient and effective technology and practices.
“The Kilifi Agro-Food Park will transform the economy of the county through creating better integrated value chains which result in greater value addition to farm produce,” governor Amason Kingi said. “It will also boost income of farmers, lower post-harvest losses, reduced price volatility and increased exposure to more efficient and effective technology and practices.”
Kingi also said that they had agreed with the Chinese investors that 70 percent of the work force that will be employed in the Agro Food Park will be from the county.
“This park will be situated within our borders and we have also made it clear in the agreement that 70 percent of the human labor will go directly to local community,” said Kingi.
KAAA, CEO Lucy Muchoki noted that the deal was part of the Sh 6 billion commitment that the two firms (KAAA and JLIANCO) made during the Inaugural Kilifi County International Investment Conference in October 2016.
During the conference, Kilifi County Government received commitments from investors amounting in excess of Sh300 billion from different investors at the forum.
“This is the first phase of disbursement. The money is being channeled through the China Africa Bank,” KAAA chief executive Lucy Muchoki said. “Through the partnership, over 20,000 Kilifi farmers are set to receive farm inputs, training and extension services to ensure high yields which will be necessary to sustain the plant.”
Feasibility studies positioned Kilifi county as the most ideal place location for the programme considering its strategic location as a rich production zone for fruits and vegetables and it is easily accessible by both road and sea providing logistical advantages for domestic and international trade.
Ms Muchoki noted that post-harvest losses in Kenya and other African countries are estimated to 50 percent of total farm production. And the model will resolve the problem of optimizing management of dispersed smallholder farmers by clustering them in more effective units and using modern ICT tools to manage the supply chain.
“Kilifi county has been selected as the site of the food park due to its strategic location in a rich production zone for fruits and vegetables which are available for processing; excellent connectivity by road & sea which; offers an excellent logistical advantages for domestic and international marketing; as well as the presence of Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) research centre at Mtwapa,” said Ms Muchoki.
She said that the model has been hugely successful in countries such as Malaysia, China and India (with the Indian food industry growing from $200 million to $310 million USD within a year.