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From bead work to banana wine: Counties display diverse

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Dancers at the Kisii stand. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Counties tried to outdo one another in showcasing their products and services at the eighth Devolution Conference held in Eldoret.

From bead products to cultural artefacts to ornamental attire to gold and banana wine, there were variety of items on display.

The conference themed “Ten years of devolution” offered the devolved units and other public and private institutions a platform to exchange ideas and exhibit their achievements ten since the inception of devolution.

At the Turkana stand, county representatives Simon Ekomwa and Mary Agialan showcased their bead products. “We make beaded belts, traditional attire, walking sticks among other items to generate income,” said Agialan.

Their belts retailed at Sh3,000 a piece, walking sticks and ornamental attire at between Sh8,000 and Sh10,000.

The neighbouring county of West Pokot showcased organic honey products, gold, iron ore, limestone, Ushanga products and cultural artefacts among others. Most of the products have been produced by small-scale industries.

West Pokot Director of Communications Nicholas Siwotom said: “Our county is known for hidden treasures because there are diverse products and opportunities which are yet to be exploited.”

Innovations in agro-processing and solid waste management were the main focus in the exhibition stand of Kisii county government.

Sub-county environment officer Obara Hesbond said the county government had empowered groups to mitigate the impact of climate change by adding value to waste products.

“Due to a high population in Kisii urban centres, solid waste management had been a challenge, but the county government has given room for resource recovery through recycling of plastic products,” said Obara.

The groups recycle waste to produce plastic strings used to weave attractive products including food baskets, chicken nets, pins among other products.

Goods on offer at the Elgeyo Marakwet stand. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

In agri-processing, Kisii prides itself of a unique banana wine.

Director agro-processing Jasper Nyakundi said investor groups produce wine, banana crisps and banana flour used to bake cakes and other food products.

Muranga County through enactment of a policy by the local county assembly has seen dairy and mango farmers benefit from subsidies from their produce. This has seen introduction of milk and mango subsidy programmes.

According to Muranga Director of Agriculture Peter Mushiri, farmers who supply their produce through cooperatives receive a subsidy to enable them expand and produce quality of produce.

“The county publishes an expression of interest for all cooperatives and farmers who supply milk and mangoes to receive a top-up to boost productivity,” said Mushiri.

He said local farmers earn an average of Sh50 per litre supplied through cooperatives, and the county pays Sh3.50 on top. A kilogramme of mango is Sh16 and the county pays additional Sh7 for produce per season.

Baringo County had various products to showcase ranging from agricultural produce, traditional and modern attires decorated by beading and products for tourism.

Agriculture Executive Risper Chepkonga said the county makes the best of deriving benefits of devolution from every ecological zone.

“Despite Baringo being classified Arid and Semi Arid Land (Asal), it is unique as it leads in seed production for all crops through irrigation in Marigat,” said Chepkonga.

A section of the Kakamega County exhibition stand. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

She said devolution has helped boost the region, noting that small holder farmers are aggregated and participate in seed production through support of National Irrigation Authority.

Highland regions of Baringo produce black and purple tea, pyrethrum, potatoes, coffee, dairy, and Horticulture among others while lowlands produce Mangoes, which were part of products on display.

In Garissa County, the infamous Mathenge weed is converted into human and livestock food.

On display at the county stand were chapati and flour derived from dry Mathenge pods.

Nuh Kusow Farah from County department of Trade said the produce is nutritious after value addition.

Hassan Hussein Sheikh said devolution had empowered rural communities to value add products and source external markets.

Hassan said the conference in Eldoret allows him to market Camel milk, Camel Yoghurt, camel biscuit cookies and also camel milk and honey chocolates that he was showcasing.

Leila Abdi, the Treasurer Tawakal Women’s Cooperative Society, had unique products in the Isiolo County exhibition stand.

Mandera County exhibition stand. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

Minced, fried and packaged camel meat was the centre of attraction.

“The county administration has enabled us to partner with development agencies like USAID that has assisted us in produce processing and marketing,” said Abdi.

Minced packed camel meat, she said, has no sugar and fat and is ideal for patients with blood pressure challenges.

The Isiolo stand also stood out thanks to a display of camel yoghurt.

Investor groups in Homa Bay have ventured into sifted maize processing, churning out products including Mokwa fortified flour processed by Kigoto Milling Plant supported by the county. The products were on display at the Homa Bay County stand.

The county also displayed its textile products, an indication the region is ripe for a ginnery. Director of Agriculture Erick Adel said the region produces 12,000 tonnes of cotton annually.

Kakamega County prides itself in subsidised Mavuno planting and top dressing fertiliser blended to meet soil specification for local farmers.

Kiambu County exhibition stand. [Christopher Kipsang, Standard]

“Since devolution, Kakamega County has invested Sh3.9 billion on agriculture subsidy that has improved maize production from eight bags to 15 per acre every season,” said Titus Omengo, the Director of agriculture.

On display was the subsidized fertiliser retailing at Sh1,485 per 25 kg for planting and Sh1,165 for top dressing.

The county has also invested in a fish factory that packages smoked Tilapia and catfish. The products with shelf life of two years retails at Sh1,000 per kilogramme.

At the Kirinyaga stand, seedling propagation using new technologies was the main focus.

Michael Njue of Farmtech seedlings said local food crop farmers have been sourcing seedlings from green houses in the distant Naivasha.

“The county government enabled us through training to embrace new seedling propagation techniques. It is now generating income and employment opportunities,” said Njue.

Njue took advantage of the Devolution Conference to market tomatoes, kales, avocado and spinach among other seedlings.

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