Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o has been a breath of fresh air in Kisumu County his entire first term and it looks like he is taking his development record to a whole new level.
This week Prof. Nyong’o signed an agreement with a UK investment firm called United Green which provides Shs 30 billion to the county over five years to modernize food production and enhance food security and development. It is a truly transformative development that could transform food production and the lakeside city’s economy plus the country as a whole.
According to media reports, the partnership with United Green will transform food production into a tailored program seeking to reduce Kenya’s dependence on imported food commodities.
Kisumu Governor Anyang Nyong’o who witnessed the signing of the deal stated that the partnership will see the revival of fish production, cotton, and dairy in the county.
“This partnership will deliver agri-fin-tech services for rural areas in enhancing climate-smart farming and state-of-the-art agro-industrial facilities,” he said.
Nyong’o announced that the program will also reduce the country’s trade deficit by Sh. 24 billion, with a view to reducing dependence on imported food commodities.
The program intends to integrate 100,000 hectares of land in the surrounding farming communities.
United Chief Green Investment officer, Albrecht Frischenschlager promised to create new ventures for farmers.
Frischenschlager hailed the partnership while noting that, “we are proud to have found such committed foundation partners and we look forward to building a national champion business in the sector together.”
Our politicians whether they are governors, MPs, or Senators have one nasty habit which never helps their constituents but themselves. Right now most of them are crawling on bended knees and begging hands stretched in front of William Ruto loudly swearing allegiance and loyalty to him hoping they can get some little handouts.
Prof. Nyong’o is not new to transforming his county for the betterment of Kisumu residents and the communities at large. He has done a very good job in changing the face of Kisumu city as Kenyans have known it for many years. Today the city is spectacular in many respects in areas of city development, transportation, open spaces, and a ton of places for residents to invest and make a good living.
Many Kenyans, particularly those with derogatory and even tribalist attitudes when they talk or think of Kisumu they think of a place where a bunch of Luos sit next to the lake waiting for fish to jump into their mouths and that is their meal and work is done.
Unfortunately for such people they have never been to Kisumu and have no clue how dynamic and advanced the city and the neighborhood are. And it is getting better every day thanks to the good work of leaders like the Kisumu governor.
For those of us who know and have lived in Kisumu, we appreciate it is a jewel with unlimited potential in any area of development. So a lot of thanks to Prof. Nyong’o for making things happen there and we know it is just at the root of its growth and potential.
An international partnership like the one the governor just signed is going to open so many doors for millions of people in the county and their neighbours.
Kenyans know that our governors and indeed our politicians except for a very small number really don’t give a damn about their constituents. Like now, we can see they are in their best begging behaviour. I get amused when I see politicians talking about which alliance in parliament or senate has the majority. That is useless talk.
The MPs are going to do and vote for what is good for them personally regardless of party or alliance. For example, now they want to get the CDF money given back to them. We know the Ruto regime is already cooking up plans to hand that money back to the MPs. All of them are going to vote for that plan and to hell with their constituents of political parties.
The governors have better prospects of bringing real development to their counties because they have a budget for it and for those who are creative and can think outside the box like Prof. Nyong’o, there are huge opportunities to work with international agencies as well as investors to make resources available for development to truly transform their counties.
However, it will never happen when the county finances are in chaos and are being stolen left, right, and center by the governors, their families, and friends. No international agency will invest in a bankrupt county run by thieves.
In this specific partnership that the Kisumu governor has signed, I would urge the neighbouring counties like Siaya, Homa Bay, Kisii , Nyamira, Kakamega, and Busia to take a good look at what Nyong’o is doing and see how they can make same efforts for their counties.
In Kisii, there have been some amazing things too where they have developed food processing and manufacturing investments involving joint funding from the national government, the counties, and outside investors. That is where the whole country has to go.
Value addition does not mean politicians grabbing government money and adding it to their already rich pocket.
It means when you produce mangoes like in Siaya county, you figure out how to process it into juice and other fruit condiments that can last longer and give you good money, instead of having kids hawking rotting mangoes at Ndori market for pennies because the mangoes are almost dead.
The one area where the governors have to work on is how to develop joint projects that involve a couple of counties bringing their resources together and having cross-county development and food production and processing. Such joint projects have a better chance of getting investments and international aid for assistance.
In the lake region, the counties need to come together and figure out how to get the best economic value from that vast lake and all its resources.
Fish processing plants, for example, can be built when counties like Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, and Busia work together to have joint projects in lake fishing, fish farming, and fish processing for export. You can’t go wrong with that if you put all the needed skills and accountability into the work and management.
All those counties also have terrific land to produce so many varieties of food for Kenyans and for export.
Best part of counties working jointly to initiate and manage big development projects can address one big blunder in the devolution formula cooked up by politicians which burned the Bomas proposals to have 8-10 counties.
That would have provided such counties with huge resources and revenue bases that could have really transformed the country very quickly.
The politicians including the current president went to Naivasha after Bomas and butchered the devolution proposals and came up with 47 counties that they knew would be too small to really do anything meaningful and would just have their hands out begging for help.
That can now be addressed by having counties work jointly to enhance the productive capacity of the counties involved. It is also a voluntary process of the willing. It has tremendous potential and our counties need to pursue it.
On farming in Nyanza counties, I have never fully understood why we don’t do flower and horticulture farming in those counties. There is a lot of room to do that.
Then we have stuff like chillies which has a huge export market and does not need huge pieces of land to grow. It can be done on local farms by the people who live and farm there as long as there is a coordinated network to get the products to Kisumu airport which now directly exports foodstuff to Europe and other places.
Above is a chilly farmer exporting his products from Kisumu Airport. You can’t go wrong with that.
At some point, Kenyans in these areas are going to get tired of growing maize and beans. In fact, we have reached that point already. How we get out of there into the new economy of diversity and export our products is the challenge in front of us.
Begging for handouts from Ruto and others is the surest way to keep people underdeveloped forever.
You can dance for him but for the love of God let’s do some work with the citizens so they can improve their lives.
All those promises of I will give you food, give you boda boda and all the other crap is nonsense that will never take anybody or community anywhere. Working for your own advancement will take you places. Let’s do it and many thanks to the Kisumu governor for pointing the way for counties.
Look at a place like Kiambu County which has more resources for development than many countries in Africa or elsewhere. If such a county was organized and with a leadership with foresight as well as vision for development they can get a revenue base that is close to the national revenue.
That will never happen when all the leaders need to do is to chase the president and dance for them all day long. Give your legs a break and go to work. Please.
Adongo Ogony is a Human Rights Activist and a Writer who lives in Toronto, Canada