The issue of sweet potato value addition has been one of the main challenges affecting farmers in the sweet potato belt in the newly created Homa Bay County. Farmers have for decades relied on the markets in Nairobi and Mombasa to market their produce which comes with many challenges but also cuts deeply into their meager margins. All this is set to change, however, as the county, government has signed up a new US-based investor who will set up three new sweet potato factories at a cost of Ksh.150 million.
The private investor, Consolata Bryant of the Organi Limited, will build a sweet potato factory in Oyugis with some three satellite units expected to be set up in Kabondo, Rangwe, and Ndhiwa which are the main sweet potato producing regions in Homa Bay. The new sweet potato value chain project will see the produce being used in manufacturing several processed foods such as bread, biscuits, cakes and crisps. The factory will also extract starch for industrial applications during the first phase of the project.
The second phase of the investment by Organi Limited will see more advanced products being produced from the sweet potatoes including ethanol and biogas thus helping in powering a greener future for Homa Bay County and the entire country. Other products will include briskets and animal feed which could also convert the county into an export economy.
This is part of series agricultural and green investments which are being rolled out by the county government so as to turn around the economy of this once rural backwater. The county has also signed a $560 billion deal with Qatar based Good Earth Power. Sweet potato farming and fishing are some of the leading economic activities in the county. Homa Bay accounts for over 60% of the sweet potato output in Kenya.