Farmers can now cultivate their crops without worrying about market accessibility and availability of farm inputs. Base Titanium program partner business for development John Cooke said that the cooperative has positively impacted the livelihoods of farmers.
“We have empowered them through education, awareness and markets linkages by directly linking the farmers to markets, PAVI eliminates the need for middle men and reduced the chances of farmers being exploited,” he said.
Speaking yesterday during a seed distribution drive in Kikoneni area within the county, Cooke said that the cooperative has enabled local farmers to participate in Base Titanium’s agricultural livelihoods programmes.
Its membership has grown from 202 farmers in 2015 to over 1, 000.
Initially, the aim was to bring together cotton farmers in Kwale to enable them to export collectively and benefit from economies of scale.
However, PAVI’s mandate has since expanded to include other crops such as; cowpeas, green grams, maize, potato, sorghum and soy beans – mirroring the expansion of Base’s livelihood programme.
“It now also provides additional services to members including training and education in farming techniques and coordinating with Base on the provision of seeds, fertilisers and other relevant inputs,” he added
Pamba and Viazi cooperative society chairman Mahmoud Masemo urged more members to join the cooperative.
He recounted the many benefits they have accrued adding that Kwale County is now well positioned to be a leading producer of cash-crops that will uplift the living standards of the residents.
“I am now a successful potato and cotton farmer who in the previous year earned over Sh100, 000 from selling my produce and I have since used the money to build a permanent house and educate my children,” he said.
This year, Base Titanium through its livelihoods programmes has distributed over 24 tonnes of seed which includes; cotton, cowpeas, green grams, and maize, potato, sorghum and soy beans to over 1,000 farmers.
The Base and B4Dpartnership has also successfully sealed a deal with East African Breweries Limited which enables farmers to directly sell their sorghum to the beer manufacturer and another with Cotton On, Australia’s largest value fashion company which directly purchases lint cotton from the farmers at competitive prices.
The partners however foresees an independent and self-sustaining cooperative by 2020 as outlined in PAVI’s 5-year strategic plan.
“Our ultimate goal is to ensure that we create a sustainable community that will outlast the life of the mine.” said Base Titanium Community Affairs Manager Pius Kassim.