The country is facing an acute shortage of soybeans and sunflower forcing manufacturers of edible oils to import the raw products from neighbouring countries for processing.
According to players in the sector, the country is currently producing 50 per cent of its needs despite a ready and a lucrative market.
To this end, Bidco Africa Company has now partnered with more than 25,000 small-scale farmers to grow the two crops as one way of meeting the demand and empowering them.
According to the company’s head of agribusiness John Kariuki, plans are underway to increase the number of farmers to 50,000 by next year.
Kariuki said sunflower and soybeans being drought-resistant crops could grow in any part of the country.
“Many farmers have been growing maize and it’s time they shifted to sunflower whose returns is very high compared to other crops,” he said.
Kariuki added that the company required more than 10,000 tonnes of sunflower and soya annually but farmers were only supplying an estimated 5,000 tonnes.
“As a result we have been forced to import the produce from Tanzania and Uganda though the country has the capacity to produce the deficit,” he said.
This emerged during a farmer’s field day in Kikopey, Gilgil, where the company moved in to partner with local farmers in producing sunflower.
“Bidco will contract the farmers, offer them technical support, logistics and an uptake market once the product is ready for harvesting,” he said.
Michael Nderitu, who is in charge of contracting, said Gilgil had the conducive environment to grow the crop.
He said crops on eight acres which had been put on trial had performed beyond their expectation and hence the move to seek more farmers.