Business News

Tattoo demand giving artists lifeline

Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 14:45

Many talented youths in arts, design and drawing are now opting to venture into the tattooing business.

This is to satisfy the high demand for tattoos by teenagers and young people embracing lifestyles portrayed by celebrities or those seeking their ‘own identity’.

Elvis is a tattooist at Wood Ink Tattoos along Kenyatta Avenue in Nakuru town. The tattoo parlour owner says the trade does require some investment.

He says: “For one to start a tattooing business, artist must be talented and grasp the art and skill of drawing and inking. He or she must also be ready to account for high costs that involve purchases of tattooing instruments. You must also establish a good rapport with your clients and the concern for healthy and safe conditions to the clients must be guaranteed.”

Elvis adds the most important is obtaining an operating licence from the authorities which comes at a cost.

“Though the initial cost of starting the venture is expensive, the profit that an entrepreneur can reap from this business is worth it,” he added.

People have stereotypes about people associated with tattoos such as the relation with demons and evil spirits but Elvis laughs this off saying that tattooing is just a way of life and social expression.

“Everyone has freedom of expression," he said.

Elvis reveals that the business gives him an average Sh90,000 in a good month.

Self-help groups succeeding in Limuru, official says

Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 11:15

Limuru Sub-county gender and social services officer Flora Mbae says that self-help groups registered at her office have recorded a 90 per cent success rate within the last one year.

Mbae says that reports submitted by the groups showed that many had opened small businesses such as retail shops, fruit stands, salons, boutiques and M-Pesa agencies among others. Some of the self-help groups’ savings accounts had also accumulated  over Sh500,000.

Andrew Wangai, leads the Ngarariga self-help group which is one of the biggest and most successful.

He says, “The initiative by the government has helped us grow. We have opened a small outlet in Ngarariga where we sell produce from our farms. We have also built better houses from the profits we got.”

Mbae attributed the success of the self-groups to the government’s continued supply of grants to the groups which are paid back with no interest.

She added: “The government has created proper avenues and policies which provide an efficient way for the self-help groups to register and gain accreditation. This allows them to qualify for the grants.”

Mbae also attributed the success to the combined effort of the various government offices such as agriculture, youth, livestock, fisheries, forestry and county development among others.

She adds that the offices work together to provide sufficient information on how and what to invest their money on.

The agriculture office even helped by providing free seedlings for crops that do well in the area, she said.

She urged more people, especially the youth to form self-help groups get registered at the gender and social services office to provide them with a chance to better their lives.

Limuru’s Njaa Marufuku initiative praised

Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 10:45

Limuru Sub-county will enjoy food sufficiency and security in the next ten years following the adoption of the Njaa Marufuku Kenya (NMK) started to promote food security. 

Area agricultural officer Joseph Ndung’u has commended Limuru residents for adopting the programme initiated by the government saying that the farmers had responded positively and adopted the initiative.

"The programme targets and funds self-help and community based organisations to empower them for crop and livestock farming. The projects have been implemented at group and individual levels, with some people adopting various technologies to become agribusiness entrepreneurs," said Ndung'u.

He added that assessment reports submitted to his office indicated an 80 per cent success rate where many farmers had adopted the programme. 

He said that the most successful of the NMK projects was Thauri Farmers S.H.G based in Limuru. 

Ndung’u said: “The self-help group has over 20 members and was given a Sh150,000 grant. The group used the money to start a poultry program that enabled them to gain income from the sale of eggs, chicks and cocks. They also bought a new incubator.”

He added that the group incorporated cabbage farming with most of the proceeds being pumped back into the project.

Ndung’u has called on more people to join and adopt the initiative saying that it will help reduce poverty, hunger and food insecurity.

He added that the government is willing to help those interested as long as they get registered and wrote a proposal requesting for funds.

Food kiosks risk closure over poor sanitation

Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 10:15

Food kiosks operating at the Nakuru main matatu stage risk being closed down due to poor sanitation.

Nakuru County public health officer Samuel King’ori says that most of the food kiosks are not registered since they have not been licensed by the public health department.

Speaking when he toured the matatu terminus on Monday, King’ori said that hygiene standards have been compromised and the food prepared in the kiosks is not fit for human consumption.

“These kiosks are very dirty. You can see the kind of environment here. Everything, including the water being used, is dirty ,” said King’ori.

He gave the kiosk owners a two-week ultimatum to get licenses and ensure cleanliness of the kiosks or face closure.

King’ori added that the whole place needs extensive and thorough cleaning and directed the county head of environment to ensure that the cleaning is carried out.

“This place must be cleaned properly and in the meantime all of you must get proper licenses. You need to get clean water to be used here and ensure that your waste is managed properly,” he said.

King’ori said that he will petition the county government to construct decent food kiosks in the terminus to replace the dilapidated ones.

He warned that those who will not have the licenses after the two-week ultimatum will have to close down their kiosks.

Photo of the Day: Highway potato traders

Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014 - 10:07

A trader sells potatoes at Total trading centre on the Nakuru-Eldoret highway. The traders want the Nakuru County government to build a modern agricultural food market at the junction to boost farmers.

Nakuru to export milk in Nigeria trade deal

Published on Monday, September 15, 2014 - 14:15

The Nakuru County government will start exporting milk to Nigeria in exchange for cocoa.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) establishing the partnership has already been signed in a bid to boost trade between the West African country and Nakuru County.

Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua says this was meant to help the county get value for its milk.

“We already have excess milk in the county and Nigeria has a lot of cocoa. We want to start factories for manufacturing chocolate in Naivasha,” he added.

Speaking in Naivasha after meeting a delegation of Nigerian Agribusiness leaders, Mbugua added that the said partnership will benefit both countries especially in creating value for their products.

Kinuthia said that this was to foster relationship between the two parties and that there was need for socio economic development in the area. He cited that the lack of market for the Kenyan produce could be solved by exporting the goods, and encouraged dairy farmers to invest more in the quality of goods they produce.

“With the establishment of industrial parks in the county, we appeal to food processing plants in the county to consider investing there to boost traders,” he added.

Head of the Nigerian delegation, Emmanuel Ijewere, said that Nigeria was yet to learn about agricultural production.

“We intend to increase the export business to fifty per cent in the next three months. Our target is mostly farmers who want to export milk and vegetables to the West,” he added.

Roadside 'mutura' vendors, eaters risk arrest

Published on Monday, September 15, 2014 - 14:00

Lari Sub-county commissioner Bernard Kinyua has issued a warning to residents against buying ‘mutura’ from unlicensed vendors saying they risk arrest.

The commissioner was reacting to a case in which a donkey was stolen from its owner at Nyambari village on Saturday night. The carcass was later found in a nearby forest with its flesh taken away.

Kinyua said that the wicked vendors steal donkeys and use their meat to make ‘mutura’, the African sausage.

“We will extend arrests even to customers who buy ‘mutura’ especially at night. The donkeys may have diseases which may be spread to the residents,” he said on phone.

Donkey meat is not for human consumption and Kinyua said that all vendors must apply for licenses from the public health office.

He added, “The licenses issued to such food businesses do not allow them to operate outside butcheries where hygiene is compromised.”

Kinyua asked chiefs and their assistants to conduct a census on all donkey owners and their donkeys. Those who own donkeys should take care of them or they will face the law, Kinyua added.

The locals urged authorities to intensify patrols as animal theft has increased.

“Our animals are not safe. Some of those who were arrested have completed their sentences and they are back. We suspect they are the ones who have started the business again,” said James Wachira, a resident.

Mbugua welcomes foreign investors to spur development

Published on Monday, September 15, 2014 - 11:45

Nakuru Governor Kinuthia Mbugua has vowed to work with foreign investors to spur development in the county.

Speaking to the media after hosting a delegation of Nigerian businessmen at the Enashipai resort in Naivasha over the weekend, Mbugua said that working with foreign investors will enhance development and promote good relations.

“I am ready to work with foreign investors across the world to ensure the development of Nakuru. The county has favourable climate and security for any investment,” he said.

Mbugua said that foreign investors are welcome for investments in the county, and that those willing to engage with the county will get incentives.

He indicated that they have received proposals from foreign investors seeking to put up companies and business enterprises in the county.

The former Administration Police commandant said his government has established cordial relations with foreign countries, saying it is the only sure way of wooing development funds and support.

He added that security and other support will be provided for those investing in the county.

At the same time, Mbugua encouraged tourists to continue visiting the county saying it has unique natural features. He said that tourism is among the sectors the county is looking at to curb unemployment.

Thika set for steady water supply after repairs

Published on Monday, September 15, 2014 - 11:30

Thika Water and Sewerage Company managing director Kenneth Njoroge has revealed that the company has reduced water loss in the sub-county by undertaking major repair works.

Some of the repairs include sealing leaks and burst water pipes which caused incessant water shortages in the pineapple growing sub-county.

Njoroge who was speaking at the company’s headquarters in Thika town on Sunday said the company will continue dealing with the problems to ensure reliable water supply to residents.

“The inspection team has replaced burst pipes and still checking the system for any faults. We want to address any issue as fast as possible and I am also appealing to the public to pay their bills on time to reduce the chances where the water is disconnected,” said Njoroge.

He said that water wastage was mainly due to burst water pipes.

Njoroge assured that residents will get consistent water supply at reduced charges due to the changes realised in the company’s service delivery charter.

Kiambu county Water executive officer Esther Njuguna said they will ensure more residents have access to clean water as soon as possible.

“We will make sure that all people in the county can access clean water. We are very committed to ensuring that hygiene and health of the residents is well taken care of,” Njuguna said.  

Photo of the Day: UK couple selling roadside chips to schoolchildren

Published on Sunday, September 14, 2014 - 06:30

England university students Alex Hopkins and Meg Snappe make roadside chips in Nakuru town, near Mt Kenya University for schoolchildren. The two are in this venture to find out whether one can actually make profits out of cooking and selling roadside chips. They plan to help five Nakuru residents start the small-scale business. 

Official: Plant bamboo to improve soil health, incomes

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 17:30

Residents of Githunguri Sub-county have been urged to plant bamboo trees due to its environmental benefits besides generating income.

Area forest officer, Bernard Njuguna says that bamboo plants are useful for ecological purposes such as soil stabilisation and erosion prevention on hill slopes. He added that mature plants can be sold at a profit.

“We have began training on the need of planting bamboo to improve environmental conditions of many farms. Githunguri and its surrounding areas have a conducive climatic environment that favours the growth of bamboo. People have started the plantation in Ruiru dam and Kamiti river catchments which have indeed taken up well,” Njuguna said.

Regarding the plant’s market, Njuguna said a Sacco which will help them market their bamboo produce regardless of whether they do it individually or as a group will be formed.

“We have formed an association known as Water Resource Users Association which helps to instil knowledge in farmers. My office has also in the recent past sponsored some bamboo farmers for an educational tour to Meru County where they have learnt more on methods of growing and harvesting bamboo besides exchange of ideas,” Njuguna revealed.

He added that in Lari location, artists have come up with a new method of making furniture using bamboo and due to its smooth texture, they make beautiful furniture such as coffee tables, chairs and even wardrobes of different designs. He said this has seen Lari youths become self-employed.

He informed farmers that bamboo provides organic matter, regulates water levels in watersheds and also contributes to purification of water.

Sell produce in groups for more revenue, farmers told

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 14:30

Marketing farm products in groups is an assured marketing strategy for farmers if they want to prosper economically by undertaking farming as a business.

Elizabeth Mukora, the Kiambu district agricultural officer was giving this advice to groups of farmers in her officer today who want to venture into strawberry farming and other horticulture products.

Mukora warned against the habit of farmers wanting to sell their farm products individually because one farmer cannot sustain the market demand of a commodity even for a single week. She termed it as greed which eventually leads to big time losses.

She told the farmers that the secret of determining the best prices for their farm produce is by working in groups because they will agree on the prices at which to sell their products. This, the agricultural officer said, could strengthen their bargaining power.

Mukora said that this way, middlemen will have no room of manipulating the prices as they wish and many farmers will be assured of a market for their produce. She adviced farmers to follow the example the dairy farmers who through the dairy cooperative are assured of a market for their milk throughout the year irrespective of the quantity of the milk they supply.

She said loss of trust from many companies to farmers is due to lack of consistence in supplying the product they need especially for those companies that do value addition to farm products.

Mukora said that groups make acquisition and distribution of marketing information easy and faster enabling faster decision making.

Finance executive faces censure motion over budget implementation

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 13:42

Karai MCA Njenga Magua has tabled a motion to send Kiambu County’s finance executive home for alleged abuse of office and misconduct.

While tabling the motion, Magua said that the performance of Mary Nguli, the finance CeC, has been unsatisfactory for a long time.

“The finance executive failed to implement the county budget that was approved by the county assembly. She also violated the county procurement procedures and processes,” said Njenga Magua.

Magua added that Nguli had failed to pay the contractors during the previous financial year and that she also delayed paying the casual workers for the months they worked.

“She paid salaries to the National Youth Service (NYS) personnel without getting consent from the assembly. She also failed to create a county development fund,” added Magua.

The motion said that she also failed to repair motorbikes, and county vehicles in the required time.

Last year, Nguli faced impeachment after a removal motion was tabled by Kiambu Town MCA James Njenga. She had allegedly defied the budget committee summons.

The motion failed because the assembly members failed to approve it.

Treasure hunt continues in Maraigushu 'gold' caves

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 13:15

Maraigushu village in Naivasha has been gripped with excitement and anxiety following reports that there are treasures left by colonialists years ago in the caves.

On Thursday, tens of residents flocked to the village where youths have already embarked on an excavation mission to retrieve the gold bars, mercury and trophies believed to have been left behind by the Britons more than 50 years ago.

The move has caused division among county leaders with nominated Senator Paul Njoroge, who is a local, accusing other leaders of misleading the jobless youth from the area.

“There are rumours of hidden treasures in the caves but no one has confirmed this. The searches should be conducted with utmost care,” the senator said on phone.

This reporter says that the senator expressed fear that lives may be lost since the caves are manmade and interfering with them could disrupt water supply. But undeterred by the concerns, the youth stormed the caves armed with metal bars and lights in a mission hoping they would be millionaires.

“The goodies which include a Land Rover vehicle were buried by British soldiers as was narrated by our grandfathers. We have already found traces of metal inside the well-constructed caves,” said Waweru Karanja beaming with confidence.

“We come from poor backgrounds and this is the only way of enriching ourselves,” added Waweru.

Isaac Ngotho, another resident said the excavation had been going on for three weeks.

“We are jobless youths who are confident that our lives shall be changed as we believe there are hidden treasures in these caves,” said Ngotho.

Despite the dangers they were exposing themselves to he added that the only things they encountered in the caves were bats and flowing water but they have strong lights to help them locate where the treasures are.

Bid to establish dog meat butchery for Chinese workers

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 12:00

A proposal to start a legal dog meat butchery is underway with an aim of providing Chinese workers in the country a clean source of dog meat.

The proposal also seeks to prevent illegal hunting and killing of dogs.

This development comes in the wake of the kicking off of the Standard Gauge Railway project which will employ thousands of Chinese nationals, many of whom are believed to fancy dog meat.

A Nakuru town based businessman who breeds and sells dogs, Nahashon Shiundu, is petitioning the government to issue him with a license for a genuine dog meat business targeting Chinese people in the country.

Shiundu who talked to this writer recently at his farm located along the Nakuru-Nyahuru highway hinted that he had written to the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Transport and Infrastructure, Kenya Railways Corporation and the main contractor to the project-the China Roads and Bridges Company, to allow him to open dog meat outlets in Mtito Andei (Voi) and South B (Nairobi). Shiundu said he is targeting the two main stations of the project.

“My aim is to legalise dog meat consumption in the country and stop the illegal slaughtering of dogs,” he said.

The dog merchant and former government veterinary officer said, in the past, cases of Chinese nationals working for construction companies in the country illegally hunting and slaughtering dogs were very rampant. This, he said, posed a danger to the environment and public health.

“Given the fact that the Standard Gauge Railways project will attract thousands of Chinese nationals, it is proof that the situation may be worse unless the government puts in place measures of prevention. I want to be part of that measure,” he opined.

He said his proposed merchandise will involve buying healthy dogs from owners across the country, stocking them and slaughtering them before distributing the meat to Chinese nationals in the country.

In the recent past, cases of Kenyans slaughtering and consuming dog meat have come to light with the most recent being reported in Naivasha where residents on two occasions helped police arrest some residents who were found slaughtering dogs with an intent of consuming the meat.

Dog meat is a normal food delicacy among many Chinese people and in other countries across the world.

The government has already issued work permits to more than five thousand Chinese workers who will be involved in the railway project.

Transporters boycott work over poor road

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 09:45

Transporters at Ndarugu quarries in Juja, Kiambu County have for the second day absconded their duties over the neglected road.

The operators accused Kiambu County government of neglecting the three kilometre road linking the quarry to the Thika superhighway. They allege that the poor state of the road has led to their incurring huge losses due to constant vehicle repairs.

Thiong’o Mwangi, one of the transporters said they were wary of what will happen during the rainy season.

“We are worried that when the rains come, this road will be worse. We need to have the road repaired to enable us work comfortably,” added Mwangi.

The strike could affect the construction industry in the country since Ndarugu quarry supplies cut stones not only in Kenya but other East African countries like Rwanda and Uganda.

The transporters who were joined by residents from Nyacaba village questioned the use of Sh300 to Sh1,000 per trip they pay to the county government.

They blocked the road and demolished kiosks where council employees collect levies and vowed not to ferry the stones until the road was repaired.

Juja MP Francis Waititu who had visited the site absolved his office out of the blame and called on Governor William Kabogo to address the issue since the county government is charged with road maintenance.

KenGen opens spa bath at Hell's Gate park

Published on Saturday, September 13, 2014 - 07:51

The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has opened its Sh15 million recreational project at the OlKaria dome.

Among this is a spa bath located at the Hell's gate national park which hosts both local and international tourists.

The recreation project is aimed at maximising the benefits from the extraction of steam gases. The popularly known geothermal spa bath or blue lagoons is the first of its kind in Africa and the second biggest in the world.

“We decided to charge a small fee to enable us run the spa well. Visitors to the park will have to pay the Kenya Wildlife Services (KWS) an entrance fee as well as the charges for swimming,” said Olkaria geothermal manager Godfrey Muchemi.

The project aims at boosting both domestic and international tourism offerings and display a skill that should be emulated by other areas with similar natural features in the country.

Located within the Olkaria Geothermal Project, the project consists of three “blue lagoons” which include a spa, sauna, conference and a geothermal museum.  The museum host artefacts showcasing the history of geothermal development in the country and other current developments in geothermal technology worldwide.

Bahati: Abandoned quarries to become fish ponds

Published on Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 14:25

The Bahati Constituency Development Fund (CDF) board has initiated a plan of transforming abandoned stone quarries in the area into fish ponds.

Bahati MP Kimani Ngunjiri said that they are working on a plan to rehabilitate waste land in the constituency by putting up fish ponds on those farms.

“Many farms here are not viable for agriculture because of the quarrying activities," the TNA MP said. 

"We want to work on them and put up fish ponds instead of letting them lie idle.”

He added that they are in consultation with the farm owners in the area in order to reach a consensus on how the fish ponds will be managed.

Speaking when he led the board in inspecting CDF financed projects on Wednesday, Ngunjiri said the initiative will also create job opportunities for the youth, who will be employed to take care of the fish ponds.

“We will employ youths in those fish ponds and they are going to earn something for that,” Ngunjiri said.

He added that the projects will also enhance food security in Bahati and nearby areas.

He said that they have already set aside money for the projects and are working closely with the fisheries department before fully launching the project.

Tuskys supermarket opens branch in Ruaka

Published on Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 11:59

Local supermarket chain Tuskys has opened a new branch in Ruaka.

The branch is expected to serve Ruaka residents and the surrounding villages like Muchatha, Karura, Gachie and Kihara among others.

Speaking during the opening, Tuskys supermarket chairman Stephen Kamau said their aim is to bring services closer to the people.

“This is your shop and our joy is to serve our customers well by bringing services closer to them,” said Kamau

This is Tuskys’s 49th branch countrywide following the opening of a new branch in Narok last month.

“We are also planning on opening a new branch in Limuru and Thika Makongeni soon,” he said.

At the same time, Kiambaa MP Paul Koinange said that he was excited with the development.

“I am really happy for Tuskys. Now our mothers will not have to travel Nairobi to do their shopping. This has opened doors for other investors who want to invest in the constituency,” said Koinange.

Koinange assured investors of their security and improvement of infrastructure in the agricultural constituency.

County government to digitise licensing

Published on Thursday, September 11, 2014 - 11:54

The county government of Nakuru is working on a plan to digitise the issuance of various business licences in the county.

Chief officer in the ministry of finance, Torome Parsaloi, has said that the move is aimed at reducing the amount of time taken in processing the permits.

“Many people come here and spend the whole day trying to secure a single licence," the officer said.

"We want to stop that by making the process simpler and faster.” 

Speaking when he toured the county licensing offices in Nakuru town on Wednesday, Parsaloi said that the move will also save the county government a lot of money on stationery.

He said that the online platform will be more convenient because people will not be required to visit the county licensing offices. The officer said that the online platform will also be used by those applying for licences to pay for the same.

“We will also be allowed to pay for the service through the same system. All you will need to do is to create an account with us,” he added.

He said that the ICT department was finalising the finer details about the system before its launch before the end of this year.

Grain farmers adopt specialised bags to reduce wastage

Published on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 11:00

Use of specialised bags to reduce wastage of grain harvest is gradually becoming popular among small-scale farmers in Nakuru County.

The Purdue Improved Crop Storage bag sold by Bell Industries Limited provides cereal farmers with a simple and low-cost mechanism of keeping away storage cereal pests.

Samuel Kipyego, the firm’s Central and South Rift sales manager, said more than 1,000 farmers have bought the bag since they introduced it into the market in December last year.

“Farmers from Subukia, Gilgil, Naivasha and Molo are among those who have bought the bag," said Kipyego.

"We are doing rigorous sensitisation on the importance of the bag among the small-scale farmers so that many can use it.” 

The bag, which goes for Sh250, is made of two layers of thermoplastic linings, creating unfavourable living environment for the survival of the cereal pests like weevils. It also has an outer covering of a woven bag.

Unlike the common methods used by many rural farmers of dusting the cereals with chemicals or traditional pesticides such as ash before storing them in woven bags or metal silos, neither is needed with the bag.

In case a weevil penetrates into the grains before storage, Kipyego said it would die within 48 hours due to the limited oxygen.

“However, farmers must ensure that the grains are very clean and free from any pests before storage.

“While farmers are not supposed to add any chemicals to kill or keep off the weevils, they must ensure that the area they store the bags are free from rats to avoid tearing them,” he advised.

Maize, beans, wheat, peanuts and pigeon pea are among the harvested crops suitable for storage in the heavy density lining bag.

Kenya risks losing European pyrethrum market, official warns

Published on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 08:00

Kenya risks losing the European Union market if efforts to revive pyrethrum production are not fast-tracked, a lobby group has said.

Speaking to reporters in Nakuru town, Pyrethrum Growers Association (PGA) chairman Justus Monda accused the government of lacking commitment to revive the sector, saying it risks losing its market.

Monda said the continued delays in reviving the sector and poor funding from the government has seen farmers abandon growing the crop.

“We risk losing the well-established pyrethrum market in Europe if the government fails to initiate procedures for the pyrethrum sector revival,” said Monda.

The chairman further accused the government of lacking seriousness in pyrethrum farming despite the existence of a ready and available market.

Monda urged Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei to fast-track revival of the sector before farmers lose hope in the crop.

The government has in the past two financial years injected Sh300 million to oversee the revival of the pyrethrum sector. Stakeholders have, however, dismissed the funds as too little to have any impact on the sector.

Photo of the Day: Risky highway business

Published on Wednesday, September 10, 2014 - 07:00

Traders sell carrots at Total trading centre on the Eldoret-Nakuru highway. They risk being run over by speeding vehicles as they dash from one vehicle to another to woo customers traveling towards and from western Kenya.

Expensive arrowroots challenging producers, consumers

Published on Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - 11:00

As the demand for indigenous foods grows, there is a risk of the commodities going out of stock or price hikes by the producers.

Mercy Wanjiku, a vegetable vendor in Kiambu town says that arrowroots have become a favourite food for many people but the demand is fast outstripping supply.

“The price of arrowroots has shot up due to a decline in production. This is affecting business in the area. My business has been affected as few customers can afford the increased prices,” says Wanjiku.

Her fears were confirmed by John Ndegwa, a resident in Kiambu.

“Many arrowroots consumers have changed their diet. This is because the quantity of arrowroots has decreased while the prices have gone up,” he said.

Peter Njogu, a farmer at Ngegu, says producing the popular tuber is becoming a problem.

“Venturing in arrowroots farming is at a loss due to the lifestyle changes from one generation to another. The tubers require a lot of water so we have shifted from growing arrowroots to other crops,” said Njogu.

Kiambu sub-county agricultural officer Elizabeth Mukora advices people not to ignore these traditional foods like cassava, sweet potatoes and arrowroots as they are better than the processed foods popular with the young generation. 

Kiambu traders lament over power cuts

Published on Monday, September 8, 2014 - 17:00

Businesspeople in Kiambu County have urged the Kenya Power to look into the regular power cuts which are negatively affecting business in the county.

The call comes a day after another power outage hit the county paralysing business operations.

Joyce Wachira, a businesswoman who owns a cyber cafe and a saloon in Kiambu town, said that this is not new to them as they have been experiencing this problem for a long time.

“I usually incur a lot of unnecessary expenses by using a generator in the event of a blackout. Sometimes the outage can last the whole day,” said Wachira.

Michael Rurigi, who operates a butchery in the town, said that the recent blackout was the worst to be experienced in the county so far.

“The blackout lasted for more than 12 hours. I incurred huge losses since I had to throw away meat which I had stored in the freezer. By morning it was already bad,” Rurigi complained.

The power outages also affect the health services that are offered at the Kiambu General Hospital as it has only one generator that caters for the children incubator machines. This is according to nurse Josephine Moraa, who added that the hospital is unable to carry out some important tests when there is no electricity.

Moraa said this makes it difficult to attend to patients with special complications.

The businesspeople have called upon the Kenya Power Company to take their grievances positively and address the matter to avoid incurring more losses.

Appoint farmers to pyrethrum board, State told

Published on Friday, September 5, 2014 - 10:15

Former Nakuru Pyrethrum Board (PBK) chairman Samuel Kihiu has called for the involvement of farmers in the board.

Kihiu decries that most of those holding various positions in the board are not pyrethrum farmers and therefore do not understand the issues the farmers have to deal with, especially pain and losses incurred in the farm.

“We need people who understand what it takes to be a pyrethrum farmer,” the former PBK boss said.

“This will help make numerous contributions towards reviving pyrethrum farming.”

Kihiu lamented the fact that majority of the board members were government appointees who may not understand what farming is.

He urged the government to provide farm inputs to the farmers at a subsidised price so that farmers can get motivated to plant the crop.

He appealed to the farmers who have seedlings to share with those who want to venture into pyrethrum farming.

“This is the planting season for pyrethrum and I am aware that the seeds are with a few farmers. It is good that we share with those who do not have so we can revive the crop,” he said.

Potato farmers to wait longer for regulated weight sales

Published on Friday, September 5, 2014 - 09:56

Potato farmers in Nakuru County will wait for an unpredictable time before they can sell their produce in 50kg bags, a county assembly member has said.

Nyota ward representative Njuguna Gichamu says Nakuru is deliberately delaying enforcement of the regulations for the interest of protecting the farmers against losing their market to other counties.

“If we enforce the law, our farmers will suffer because the brokers buy from other farmers using the extended bags,” he said.

This means that the farmers will continue being exploited by brokers and middlemen as the leadership awaits collaboration from other potato-growing counties.

He said an inter-county committee representative of the 14 potato-growing counties is currently deliberating on regulations to be applied harmoniously.

Each county is represented by an executive member in charge of the agriculture and they are expected to submit their recommendations by October this year.

In the regulations approved by the county assembly in August last year, the packaging weight was limited against the current weight of up to 280kg.

Any person found trading the produce at the exceeding weight could be liable to a fine of Sh10,000 or a jail term of six months.

The offender would also be subject to both penalties depending on the breach.

Apart from Nakuru County, other counties involved include Nyandarua, Baringo, Elgeyo and Uasin Gishu among others.

Agri-vijana loan targets Kikuyu youth

Published on Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 14:37

Kikuyu sub-county youth officer Maureen Musyoki has hailed the collaboration between Amiran Kenya and the Youth Enterprise Development Fund (YEDF) to provide modern farming equipment to the young people.

The collaboration is meant to support the area’s young farmers in acquiring greenhouses and global compliant agricultural input. These are expected to shift beneficiaries from traditional farming methods that have been used in the area for a long time.

Speaking from her office, Musyoki said the fund will offer young people opportunities to venture into agri-business through the Agri-vijana loan.

“The loans will be used to purchase the Amiran farmers kit which contains two green houses, a drip irrigation system, a collapsible water tank, a farmer’s sprayer, gold medal seeds, a nursery set, fertilizers, agrochemicals, a plant support system, Amiran farmer’s kit insurance and free training for the group members or individual,” she said.

She added that the requirements needed are that the group or individual applying must have a minimum of a quarter of an acre piece of land and must present ownership documents. If the land is leased, a written consent from the owner must be presented to show that one has approved and it must not be for less than three years.

In addition, beneficiaries must have a constant and reliable water source and must be able to raise the 10 percent of the investment outlay.

She added: “The security of the loan will be the financed equipment or personal guarantees by groups or individual members. Groups must be registered with a relevant government ministry and group members must be between 18 and 34 years.”

Beneficiaries must also be residents in the constituency of application.

Musyoki added that YEDF is also offering fully computerised incubators with a capacity holding of 528 eggs on credit. The youth will be given a period of six months to pay for the equipments. They will also be required to produce recent bank or M-Pesa statements and other relevant business records.

Nakuru women get enterprise funds

Published on Thursday, September 4, 2014 - 07:38

About 179 women groups in Rongai district have already benefited from the Women Enterprise Fund (WEF).

A total of Sh3 million was disbursed in the district in a function that was attended by Nakuru nominated MCA Mary Mbugua.

While giving the cheques, Ms Mbugua urged women in the area to rise up so as to reduce poverty. She also advised women to engage more in self-help groups to be able to participate in the country's development.

The nominated ward representative, however, cautioned women against using the money in things that are not beneficial, insisting that the money was purposely for development.

Rift Valley regional credit officer Isaac Lagat said that 1,507 women groups in Nakuru County will benefit from Sh140 million allocated for the county.

The highest beneficiary from the fund was Nakuru West constituency where a total of Sh21 million was disbursed.

Lagat encouraged women to join hands in coming up with different projects that will help them benefit from more funds from the government.

“This is the right time for women in this country to show their potential by participating in development projects to help get rid of poverty,” she said.

Sh3 million was given to 28 women groups in Kambi ya Moto area with the highest group getting Sh350,000.

Lagat said that they are working with different government agencies to empower women.

Food vendors reap big from holiday varsity plan

Published on Friday, August 29, 2014 - 12:32

Food vendors from Thika sub-county have in the past one month had good business selling their food to the school-based session students.

The session starts at the end of a normal semester where those in the regular programme take a break and those who study during school holidays commence their studies.

The caterers have stationed themselves at Mount Kenya University’s main gate where they get to attract all the student traffic.

Mary Muthanje, one of the food vendors, says that they are able to offer high quality food for less in comparison to hotel rates.

“We make sure to cook high quality food to attract a lot of customers than our competitors,” she said.

“We also emphasise on hygiene and good customer relations. Since we are dealing with learned people, we are very careful with our language.”

She said that students appreciate their presence to a point of even not going to their hostels to have their lunch since they save time by having something ready from the caterers.

Muthanje adds that they are well conversant with their usual customers and what they like.

James Gichuki, one of the students said: “We are pleased that we do not waste a lot of time when we are busy.

“If one is given a 10-minute lunch or tea break, one is able to rush here and take something quickly then get back to class on time.”

He added that the students appreciate the food vendors because they prepare the food very well and the students have not complained of food poisoning.