KENYA – The Taita Taveta county plans to set up a KES45 million (US$281,000) rice milling factory to benefit hundreds of rice farmers who have been selling unpolished rice to brokers and middlemen at throw-away prices.

The announcement was made by Christine Kilalo,the  Deputy Governor during a site visit to the proposed ground on Tuesday.

She revealed that the county government have already advertised the tender to procure and install the plant at Mboghoni ward.

According to Kilalo, this factory is aimed at boosting rice production in the area. It will also be vital in processing rice in order to increase the current price from KES40 to KES85.

She said the county has been losing revenue as farmers continue to languish in poverty due to over exploitation by middlemen.

“Lack of milling plant has prompted brokers to buy the unpolished grain for as low as KES40 per kilo,” she said.

The deputy governor said the plant will also create jobs for unemployed people in the area.

She urged farmers to take advantage of the brokered deal as county kick starts plans to set up the rice mill

Once completed, the factory will help farmers produce high-quality rice that meets the standards and preferences of consumers.

The rice factory will also produce by-products such as rice bran, rice husks, which can be used as animal feeds and fuel.

Accompanying the deputy governor, Erickson Kyongo, Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Irrigation executive said the department is also assisting farmers to produce high quality grain and reduce post-harvest losses.

“We also want to reduce post-harvest losses, eliminate predatory cartels and boost farmer earnings,” he stated.

The announcement comes after Dr. Dominic Menjo, food security advisor to the president recently commissioned mobile milling machines for rice farmers in Mboghoni ward, Taveta sub-county in Taita Taveta County.

Speaking during the commissioning, Menjo said the machines are going to revolutionize post-harvest rice processing and potentially increase the price of the commodity.

Describing the machines as the missing piece to the puzzle of revitalizing the county’s rice value-addition chain, Dr. Menjo said, “Now farmers will have no reason to sell their rice at throwaway prices simply because they don’t have access to processing technology and equipment at their disposal.”

The mobile rice milling machines can process 1.5 tonnes per hour, a capacity that will come in handy during the harvesting season.

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