Makueni farmers to reap millions from sunflower farming

H.E. Kibutha Kibwana, Governor Makueni County together with Rita Okuthe, the Chief Enterprise Officer at Safaricom are taken through the process of weighing an buying produce. Looking on is Mr. Kariuki from Bidco and KLPA’s C.E.O Mr Patrick Kimani

Thousands of Makueni farmers are looking at better days growing sunflower. Through contract farming, Bidco has partnered with Makueni County and Safaricom through use of a mobile based app, Digifarm, through which farmers get agronomical advise, credit facilities and all the necessary extension services on their mobile phone.

The journey towards sunflower production in the County began in November 2018 when Bidco through DigiFarm Contracted 640 farmers to plant the crop as a pilot project.

According to Governor Kivutha Kibwana, the pilot project covered 941ha, harvesting 941 metric tons of sunflower seed valued at about Shillings 35 million.

The sunflower production journey in Makueni started in November last year when Bidco, through DigiFarm, contracted 640 farmers to plant the crop for the pilot project.

Bidco has allocated Kenyan farmers a 2,000 metric tonnes quota out of the 10,000 metric tonnes of sunflower seeds it requires to manufacture its products annually.

“We are ready to buy all the sunflower seeds grown in the country,” the head of agribusiness at Bidco, John Kariuki, said during a ceremony to buy sunflower seeds at Kathonzweni township in Makueni three weeks ago.

Kariuki announced that Makueni has been identified as a model county for sunflower seed growing in the country where those aspiring to venture into the business will come for bench marking.

To spur uptake of the crop, a team of DigiFarm extension officers, known as DigiFarm village advisers, monitor the progress of their investments in all the farms. Those in need of pesticides are advised to go for it at DigiFarm kiosks which have mushroomed across the region.

Purchase of this produce was flagged off at Kathonzweni by governor Kibwana, Safaricom’s Director of Enterprises Business Rita Okuthe, and Bidco head of Agribusiness John Kariuki on Thursday.

“We are glad that the farmers now have a guaranteed market for their produce, therefore eliminating the perennial problem of brokers exploiting farmers with very poor prices. DigiFarm is a revolution in agriculture in Africa and the entire Third World,” said Prof Kibwana.

You can view the sunflower buying event video below.

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