Bidco partners with over 25,000 small-scale farmers to boost oil input.

Head of agribusiness at Bidco Africa John Kariuki talking to farmers in Kikopey, Gilgil, on Saturday.

Bidco Africa Group plans to partner with more than 25,000 small-scale farmers to boost the production of soybeans and sunflower locally so as to meet their demand for edible oils.

Speaking at a farmers' field day in Kikopey, Gilgil, on Saturday, head of agribusiness John Kariuki, the country is facing a shortage of the two crops forcing manufacturers to import the raw products from neighbouring countries for processing.

He pointed out that the country barely produced 50% of its edible oil needs despite a ready and lucrative market.

“This initiative is aimed at empowering farmers financially. Many farmers have been growing maize but it is time they changed to sunflower and soybeans whose returns are higher than what is realised from other crops notwithstanding that the two crops are drought-resistant crops that can grow in any part of the country,” explained Kariuki.

He acknowledged that the firm requires over 10,000 metric tonnes of sunflower and soya annually against an estimated supply of 5,000 metric tonnes, forcing them to rely on neighbouring Uganda and Tanzania to bridge the gap.

Kariuki added that they were seeking to engage more than 50,000 farmers across the country by next year.

“Bidco will contract the farmers, offer them technical support, logistics and an uptake market once the product is ready for harvesting,” he said.

Michael Nderitu, who is in charge of contracting, said Gilgil had a conducive environment to grow the crop.

He said crops on eight acres which had been put on trial had performed beyond their expectation and hence the move to seek more farmers.

“The crop is also ideal for this region because it is rarely attacked by pests, livestock or wildlife,” he added.

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