Development will Only come when Regular Folks are Involved in the Production of our Goods and Services

10 mins read

Today as we see desperate attempts to sell “development” to this and that tribe in Kenya which I personally think is nonsense I came across something that really surprised me.

Below was an incident where then-President Uhuru in 2019, his then-DP, and Raila Odinga were at the BIDCO plant and offices in Kiambu. The products on display are the ones I always say should be produced at the local level with our farmers and businesses working together.

I look at that picture and I see juice from local fruits in Kenya and we can produce that everywhere in the country for domestic use and for export. Why can’t we do it when we drink fake juice (coloured water) every day and we have fruits rotting all over Kenya because nobody is using them to process juice?

Here is the trick. Bidco has an Industrial Park in Kiambu which is 80 acres and it is putting Shs. 20bn in that project and they will give you all sorts of numbers on direct employment and indirect employment and all that but why on earth can’t a Kenya government start a 20 acre Industrial Park for local Kenyan farmers to work with investors to produce processed juice and other food products for our market at home and abroad?

I know prayers are important for our politicians today but it never produces any food for you to eat. Ask Ruto how many times he prayed for food and it was delivered to him on the table. Zero. He is not stupid to pray for food and expect anything.

The Bidco Industrial Park will host the company’s beverage and food processing factory. The ceremony was also attended by Deputy President Dr. William Ruto and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Through contract farming, Bidco Group has engaged 35,000 farmers across Kenya to supply them with soya and sunflower. “This, in essence is what we are trying to achieve as a nation,” the president said, “a manufacturing sector that links with other productive sectors of the economy.”

Bidco Africa Chairman Vimal Shah said the Shs. 20 billion ultra-modern complex is part of the company’s expansion plans and will host its beverage and food processing factories.

One of the key features of the industrial park is the ultra-modern centralized distribution center of 12,000 square meters, which will serve the entire production outlay with the capacity to hold 12,000 metric tonnes of goods.

The Bidco Industrial Park (BIP) is spread over 80.7 Acres of the industrial land with 20% of its land utilized for the construction of existing manufacturing plants.

The total investment committed to developing the site fully is estimated at $300 million (Ksh30 billion) out of which $100 million (Ksh10 billion) has already been spent.

BIP’s technological outlay comprises a self-contained and sustainable model of operations, which include an effluent treatment plant with a capacity of 550,000 liters per day; boilers with capacities of 480 tonnes per day to supply steam; water filtration plant for 90,000 liters per hour; water storage tanks with a total capacity of 9.5 million liters and a 66KV power sub-station to supply 7.5 megawatts of power to the facility.

Bidco is doing its job and Kenyans must applaud them for their great effort and investment. But when the time comes when Kenyans will see these industrial parks all across our country built with the joint effort of our national and county governments, bringing in local farmers and setting up industries to add value and maximize the value of the products they produce then we will talk about development. But when the government is too busy distributing beans for the survival of its citizens and “development” is all about singing loudest to President Ruto and his cohorts who now think they own the world, it is a waste of time and will fail and fail again.

The one leader that I think has been very practical is Kisumu Governor Prof. Ayang’ Nyong’o and I like his latest adea about moving street Traders to Uhuru Kenyatta Business Park which was built to do exactly that.

“We will ensure all traders are settled inside the Uhuru Business Park. It has been confirmed that trading in the streets is not only unhealthy but exposes traders to various hazards. This will apply to all markets in the county,” he said.

He directed traders who were allocated stalls at the market and were trading on the streets to move in immediately or lose the spaces.

You have a facility like this in a big city with all sorts of traders why the heck is it not open? This should be opened immediately and traders are going to flock there as well as customers. But I want Governor Nyong’o to do his constituents one big favour.

Work with all levels of government and investors to set up an Industrial Manufacturing System at the Uhuru Business Park to process products for the local and export markets. You could help set up a bunch of bakery factories around there. Let’s do fruit processing. Do meat processing. Build a huge industrial complex there for local traders and investors. It is very workable.

I am not forgetting about Kibuye Market which could work together with this facility and of course we have Chiro Mbero at the heart of the city.

These are the kind of development projects we need to talk about. If William Ruto was coming to Kisumu to launch the Uhuru Complex in Kisumu as an industrial and trading center I would swim across the Atlantic Ocean to be there since I am too broke to buy an Air Ticket. But singing and singing for the big boy is not my kind of thing. I apologize to the Ruto singers. But when they decide to talk and implement real development they will meet us because we are already there doing whatever we can do. We are on the ground fellas. Let’s meet there.

In Kenya today more than 30% of the 500,000 tonnes of mango produced in the country rots in waste.

This is stuff for tons of juice for our own use and for export where there is a huge market in Europe and Asia. Same with all our fruits and farm produce which can be turned into serious business opportunities for local folks. This can be turned around by using local marketing joints as fruit and food processing industrial centers. That has to start now instead of all the talk about what will be done in six months.

Development is not a complex issue if you know what you are doing. But if you are going to put up posters welcoming the president all over the country, you are wasting everybody’s time including that of your allegedly beloved president.

Kwale alone has enough mangoes to set up the biggest mango juice processing anywhere in the world. It is mangoes growing just in the forest and they can be taken care of and it can be a huge industry. That is just a start. We have fruits in our country and a lot of it grows wild in the bushes. We have money. We just don’t know how to cash it. That will change with mature leadership over time.

Meanwhile, these jokers can have their party. Nobody is interested in their crap. They can eat it all by themselves. Moi did this for 24 years and then his ass was kicked out of office. As simple as that. Kenyans are used to these scam bugs and they know how to deal with them. Make no mistake about that. It is good to see Ruto going the Moi Route. Even he knows where that ends and so do we.

Adongo Ogony is a Kenyan Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada

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