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Government to grow biofuel crops in 23 ASAL counties supporting 200K farmers

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By George Munene

The Kenyan government is partnering with Italian multinational energy company the ENI group, on an initiative to promote the growth of biofuel crops, such as castor, croton, and cotton in 23 Arid and Semi-Arid Land (ASAL) counties.

The project aims to reach 200,000 farmers covering 200,000HA in order to improve livelihoods, create economic opportunities and increase agri production in the country.

Eni currently works in 11 counties supporting 50,000 farmers in the production of vegetable oil for biorefining. The project leverages marginal or degraded land and crops that do not compete with the food supply chain.

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The initiative is set to transform the livelihoods of these communities by providing a reliable source of income and improving the economic conditions of the ASAL areas.

These counties include Makueni, Kitui, Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, Nakuru, Baringo, Embu, Kirinyaga, Machakos, and Lamu; with suggestion of 12 more counties to be included.

“Kenya has over 80 per cent of arid land, we want to turn these lands, which have been largely ignored, into useful production avenues,” said Harsama Kello, PS State Department for crop development. Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development.

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The Italian company’s first processing plant in Makueni county has a capacity of 15,000 tons/year and its production of vegetable oil is already feeding Gela refinery, in Italy. 

A second agri-hub will be launched in the second half of 2023, and others in the following years, to reach a production target of 200,000 tonnes by 2026.

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