In a bid to revolutionize tomato farming and bolster agricultural productivity, the Kirinyaga County Government is in the final stages of constructing a modern seedlings propagation centre in Kangai area of Mwea West.

Governor Anne Waiguru announced that the facility is expected to be completed by the end of this financial year, marking a significant step towards addressing the challenges faced by local farmers in acquiring high-quality and affordable seedlings.

Kirinyaga County stands as a leading horticulture producer in the country, particularly in tomato cultivation.

With an annual production of about 116,431 tons, the county's tomato output has seen a steady rise from 2017's 46,594 tons.

The construction of this state-of-the-art facility not only signifies progress but also promises a major boost in agricultural productivity for the region.

Governor Waiguru emphasized the importance of empowering small-scale farmers through diversified agricultural activities, aligning with the county's Wezesha initiative, akin to the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA).

"Kirinyaga being a rural county, we have Wezesha as our version of the Bottom-up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA). Through diversified agricultural activities, we are empowering small-scale farmers to produce more and earn more from agriculture thus improving their standards of living," Waiguru stated.

The seedling propagation centre aims to equip farmers with high-yielding and disease-tolerant tomato seedlings, thus amplifying production while reducing farming costs.

Moreover, the centre forms an integral part of Governor Waiguru's comprehensive strategy to position county farmers as primary beneficiaries of the upcoming Sagana Agro-Industrial Park.

This initiative encompasses the establishment of farm produce aggregation centres and processing factories, promising further value addition and reduction of post-harvest losses for farmers.

"Availability of the facilities will enable farmers reap more from value addition and will save them from produce post-harvest losses. By and by, these interventions are aimed at improving the living standards of the county farmers," Waiguru said.

John Gachara, the County Executive Committee Member for Agriculture, Livestock, Veterinary & Fisheries, highlighted the potential impact of the flagship project on tomato production and other horticultural crops.

He stressed that the centre's subsidized prices for quality seedlings will enable farmers to maximize profits, thereby uplifting their standards of living.

"The price of seedlings has been on the rise, growing from Sh9 to Sh15. With the establishment of this centre, farmers will have access to quality seedlings at a subsidized price, enabling them to maximize their profits," said Gachara. 

Local tomato farmers eagerly anticipate the completion of the seedling propagation centre, foreseeing significant cost savings and enhanced profitability.

Wilson Muriuki, a farmer, expressed relief at the prospect of reduced transportation expenses and increased convenience in acquiring seedlings.

Similarly, Karani Gitari emphasized the transformative effect of the centre on cost efficiency and profitability.

Natalia Muriuki, another local farmer, underscored the challenges faced in accessing quality seedlings due to high transport costs, exacerbated by rising fuel prices.

The proximity of the propagation centre offers a solution to these challenges, ensuring the affordability and accessibility of seedlings for farmers.

The imminent completion of the seedling propagation centre heralds a new era for tomato farming in Kirinyaga County, promising sustainable growth, enhanced productivity, and improved livelihoods for local farmers.