KENYA – Edible oil manufacturers Bidco Africa Ltd has embarked on a project to establish a processing factory in the Western Kenya region in a move that will see the country begin palm oil production.

The move by Bidco comes at a time the government of Kenya is planning to stimulate domestic oil crop production from 5% to 25%, in a bid to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on imports hitting over KS 90 billion (US$716M).

According to Bidco, the strategic initiative is set to not only transform the lives of local farmers but also have a notable impact on the cooking oil market in the country.

Homabay County, located in the western part of the nation, is among the first devolved units to embrace the Bidco Africa palm oil project.

Speaking to Citizen TV, Bidco said that the country’s leadership has shown strong support for the initiative, recognizing the potential to create a positive ripple effect on the local economy.

Leaders in Homa Bay county, on the other side, believe that by partnering with Bidco Africa, local farmers will not only find a reliable buyer for their palm oil produce but also gain access to advanced agricultural practices and technologies, thereby increasing their overall yields and income.

“What we are looking at is industrialization, we are looking for jobs for our young people. Edible oils is a big value chain for the national government and for us as a county and for the people of Homa Bay,” said Gladys Wanga, the county governor.

Wanga added that the move would also raise the per capita income of Homa Bay to about Sh500,000 a year from the current Sh99,000.

The move by Bidco comes at a time when the edible oil industry players in Kenya have had a spat with the government over its decision to import refined edible oil through the Kenya National Trading Corporation (KNTC).

In addition, edible oil manufacturers, through the Kenya Association of Manufactures (KAM) halted a move by the government to reduce tariffs on imported oils coming from outside East Africa from 35% to 25% arguing that the move would be negatively harmful to the sector.

In discontent, KAM said that the move is detrimental to the edible oil sector adding that manufacturers have invested over KES 100 billion and employed at least 10,000 people directly in the edible oils value chain hence the sector deserves protection from the state.

In a bid to cut the huge import bill and attain edible oil sufficiency, however, recently, Kenya collaborated with the Indonesian government to establish large-scale and outgrowth schemes in eight counties for palm oil, sunflower oil, and soybeans.

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