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Friday, 14 Jul 2017 11:32 EATbmulu@kenyafreepress.com
The Kitui County government is undertaking to support the cooperative societies in the county to do value addition for better returns, employment and wealth creation, the governor, Dr Julius Makau Malombe has said. He added that they are encouraging and building capacity of the societies to improve quality of agricultural products such as the honey, cereals, livestock and livestock products.
“We shall continue to facilitate cooperatives in the county to improve governance and management so that the members receive the required returns from their investment,” the governor said.
Dr Malombe said this in a speech read for him by the Kitui County Trade, Industry, ICT and Cooperatives Development Deputy Director Robert Ng’ong’a during this year’s (95th) International Cooperatives Day celebrations held at the Kitui British American Tobacco (BAT) Grounds in Kitui Town where he was the chief guest representing him at the function. Thousands of the local cooperators attended the function.
The theme of this year’s event was “inclusion” and the slogan was “no one is left behind.” Dr Malombe said that their county’s cooperative society’s bill, policy and regulations are already finalized and will be presented to the county assembly when the next new house is reconstituted.
“This will present us with opportunities to further support the cooperative sector,” he said. “Further we have injected an additional budget to implement our county’s strategy of one cooperative society in each of the county’s 247 villages during this financial year that starts today (Saturday, July 1, 2017) geared towards the capacity building of the societies in the county,” the governor said.
Dr Malombe also said they continue to emphasize the mainstreaming of the youth and women in the cooperatives for prosperity and continuity through mentorship and inclusion leadership. He challenged cooperatives to venture into housing projects to provide affordable and decent shelter for the county’s fast growing population of urban towns. Dr Malombe asked the local cooperative leaders to be servants and stewards of the cooperators.
“We look upon you to lead by example and not to turn the cooperators into your slaves,” the governor said.
Dr Malombe said that the Kitui Vision for Economic and Social Transformation (KIVEST) 2015 recognises inclusion and was developed through a very consultative process and that they have projects and programmes that are geared towards inclusivity.
He said their cooperative societies continue to face a number of challenges hindering the societies from achieving the objectives for which they were formed. Some of the challenges are the poor governance emanating from bad leadership, inadequate funds to meet the members demands for loans and carrying out the sacco business, inadequate human resource to maintain their financial records/poor recording keeping by the societies, low membership base hindering them from achieving economies of scale in savings, production and marketing, reliance on rain-fed agriculture affecting agricultural based cooperatives, inappropriate technology for value addition and low up-take of available investment opportunities according to him.
The governor said that to-date they have a total of 141 societies with new societies standing at 79, adding that they have also revived 12 societies that were initially dormant. He said they are deepening financial access by facilitating the formation of saccos so that the savings can be mobilised for on-lending. The governor added that to-date some 67 per cent of the county’s societies are sacco based.
“We continue to support the value chain of products that the county has competitive advantage on, for instance, 16 honey processing factories have been built and equipped for cooperatives dealing with honey in the county by the county government,” he added.
He said they have been exposing their traders and entrepreneurs to trade fairs and exhibitions locally, nationally and regionally. The governor announced that they have the Kitui County Micro and Small Enterprises Development Fund that will also benefit the cooperators.
“This should be enacted before the end of this calendar year,” he said.
The governor said that to increase the crop production for increased income and improved food security, his government procured and distributed some 495.08 metric tonnes of high quality improved seeds which benefited 221,686 farmers. And he added that they have procured four disc (wet) mills to assist 130 farmers in sorghum and millet wet milling.
“To reduce drudgery in farm operations such as land preparation and enable farmers open up more land for cultivation, the county government has procured seven farm tractors complete with ploughs. The farm tractors have opened 1,374 acres during the last two years,” Dr Malombe added.
On education, he said the county government has constructed 561 early child development education (ECDE) classrooms and additional 335 ECDE classrooms are on-going.
“More than 34,440 learners are expected to benefit from this,” the governor said. And he added that they have continued to provide teaching and learning materials (syllabuses, activity books, text books, charts, learning blocks), furniture and outdoor play equipment to the ECDE classes.
Dr Malombe said his government is paying stipend to 2,144 ECDE teachers to relieve parents of the financial burden.
“This has not only boosted the teachers morale but also improved their living standards as a result of enhanced financial benefits,” he said.
“Additionally, 14 new youth polytechnic workshops have been constructed by the county government benefitting 724 trainees while 39 have been equipped with tools and equipment,” Dr Malombe said.
The function was also addressed by the Kitui County Cooperatives Development Committee Chairman Simon Muema Munyoki, Kitui District Cooperatives Officer Francis Mutuku, Kitui West District Cooperatives Officer Joseph Mutemi and Kisasi/Lower Yatta District Cooperatives Officer Leonard Juma Syengo among others.
Boniface is a contributing reporter for the Kenya Free Press based in Kitui County