By Michael Oduor

Over 56 groups from Taita Taveta County are set to benefit from free indigenous chicken from  Kenya Climate Smart Agriculture Project (KCSAP) that is being implemented in partnership with the county Government of Taita Taveta and the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

Speaking while officiating the phase 2 of the distribution of 4,690 one-month-old improved kienyeji chicks to famers in Mwatate sub-county, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) for Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation Davis Mwangoma said over Shs.12 million will be used in distributing over 33,000 chicks to self-help groups drawn from the county’s 6 wards under the project.

“The purpose of this project is to increase agricultural production from farmers in this County through climate smart agriculture,” said Mwangoma.

He added that following the climate change experienced in the region, there is a need to adapt to climate smart agriculture and learn how to do agribusiness that will see farmers getting income through the farm produce.

The distribution of chicken to farmers is part of other 3 value chain initiatives including Dairy and beef, green grams and Irish potatoes distributions which is targeting 174 groups from Taita Taveta County in a bid to increase agricultural production in the region.

Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organizations’ Peter Laru lauded farmers for their efforts in embracing the value addition project adding that it has greatly impacted livelihoods of county residents through ensuring food security of the people.

“We want you to do business. In this era, farming is not just about producing milk or chicken. We want you to do agribusiness where you produce products for businesses,” stated Laru.

Laru further urged farmers to embrace agriculture and take it as their employment. He added that through it, there will be food security in the county and cases of malnutrition will be eliminated.

Taita Taveta is among the counties listed as highly affected by drought in 2021. Chicken rearing being among the components of climate smart agriculture, will ensure that farmers do not depend entirely on crops but diversifying their agricultural skills and practice dairy farming, poultry farming and planting of drought resistant crops which will ensure the residents in the region have enough food to sustain them during the drought season.

Farmers who benefited from the phase 2 distribution lauded the organizers for the initiative that has enabled them to support their families.

A total of 43,000 chickens have already been distributed under the KCSAP.

Earlier, Taita Taveta County Government in partnership with the Go Blue Economy programme under the Jumuiya Ya Kaunti za Pwani (JKP) was set to revive over 350 fishponds within Taita Taveta in bid to produce over 50 million fingerlings.

According to CECM Mwangoma, the county has for years relied on fingerlings from Sagana, a move he says has necessitated the need to feature fishing-industry empowerment programmes as part of the blue economy benefits.

While at Dembwa, Mwatate sub-county as he was overseeing the field training for fish farmers, Mwangoma applauded the JKP empowerment initiative which he said is helping in poverty eradication.

“We have over 700 fishponds in this County out of which 380 are active and over 350 others that don’t work. We have started the process of reviving them which will see farmers getting income to support their families,” said Mwangoma.

Mwangoma said that  Under the Blue Economy, plans are underway to have value addition for the commodity as the county designates specific areas for small scale traders involved in fish markets.

“Most of the fish farmers have given up due to death of fish they stock and lack of fish feed which has necessitated the need to have training for fish farmers in the county so that they can embrace fish farming and earn a living through selling of the commodity, ” he added.