The county government of West Pokot has launched the construction of a milk processing plant at Kabichbich, Pokot South.

While presiding over foundation stone laying for the milk processing plant, Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo said that the plant will stimulate dairy farming in Pokot South, giving the county the much needed economic boost. The County boss said his administration had intensified efforts to diversify agriculture production as a government policy to reduce over-dependence on mono-crop farming.

Value addition is a key component of the governor’s manifesto as it aids in stimulating the economy for immense growth. The county's livestock breeds improvement programme started in 2018 will come in handy in ensuring sustainability of the project through increased productivity. Consecutively, the county will target dairy farmers for capacity building to equip them with modern practices, including growing of pasture and consequently, lead to increased milk production throughout the year.
The plant has a capacity to pasteurize 1000 litres of milk per hour.

Lelan and Tapach wards are famed for milk with highest fat content in Kenya and this factory will exploit this through products not limited to cheese and butter. Currently, there are over 25 milk cooling plants in Pokot South among them Kabichbich, Chepkono, Kipat, Ringring, Chesupet and Kaptabuk.
Last month, the governor launched construction of Lomut Mango Factory while Nasukuta Abbattoir is almost complete for operation. All these factories will help farmers fetch competitive prices for their produce; create job opportunities as well as a shot in the arm for the growth of economy.

Governor John Lonyangapuo joined his counterpart from Trans Nzoia County Patrick Khaemba and security team led by Regional Commissioner Rift Valley George Natembeya for a security baraza over land tussle in Chepchoina Settlement Scheme.

Governor Lonyangapuo said that it was unfortunate for women and children to spend nights in the cold after their houses were destroyed. He urged for calm as the two counties and the national government work towards resolving the perennial issue.
During the meeting, Natembeya disbanded the land committee and directed a new one to be constituted in a month with a membership drawn from all communities affected by the conflict. The committee will aid in vetting those with genuine allotment letters and also identify beneficiaries for phase three of the settlement exercise. This is a crucial step in ensuring land owners displaced by a network of cartels working with rogue officers in the lands registry are resettled. 15, 000 acres of the 17, 000 acres of the ADC Farm was allocated to squatters but the implementation process was marred by corruption thus fuelling perennial land rows.

According to records as revealed by Natembeya, only 14, 000 acres was subdivided and 1,730 cannot be traced. He ordered administrative officers to find the missing parcel of land. Present were Senate Leader of Majority Samuel Poghisio and MPs Dr. Robert Pukose (Endebess) and Samuel Moroto (Kapenguria) among others.

Earlier on with County Commissioner West Pokot Apollo Okello, we visited Katikomor area to assess situation following eviction of people from disputed pieces of land near the Suam Orchard ADC. Land issues in Chepchoina, Kamtel and Katikomor have been a thorny issue since 1994 when government allocated parcels of ADC farms to the landless members from Luhya, Turkana and Pokot communities and escalated during planting season by cartels with fake allotment letters.

Governor Prof. John Lonyangapuo presided over ground breaking ceremony and laying foundation stone for the construction of Sh50m Mango Processing Plant in Lomut Ward, Sigor Constituency. The first phase of the project will involve construction of the housing for the plant worth Sh10m and Sh25million for the equipment and will be completed in four months.

Once the plant operationalizes, the plant will process one tonne of ready to drink juice per hour. In addition, Natural Fruit Concentrate will be processed, put in drums and stored in cold rooms for use during mango off peak season and also sold to other factories.
In phase two, another line will be installed to process paw paw and water melon and another line for tomatoes and other fruits. The mango plant is one of the flagship projects pledged in the governor’s my manifesto. David Kamama, a farmer who owns 500 mango trees, could not hide his joy and termed the project a big milestone for the mango growing areas along the Kerio Valley belt.

A 50-acre farm has been earmarked and the four high varieties of mangoes will be planted as a demonstration to farmers. Kabichbich Milk processing plant in Lelan Ward will start in a fortnight while Nasukuta Export Abbattoir will be ready for use by May this year. Value addition is crucial in unlocking the county’s economy and my administration is committed to ensuring the lives of the people of West Pokot improve through these factories.
Among those present were MP Peter Lochakapong, Woman Representative Lilian Tomitom, area MCA Jacob Toungole, Ariong'o Loporna (Masol) nomninated MCAs Nancy Chombir, Agneta Kelepo and Grace Reng'ei and a delegation from the County Government.

It will not be business as usual for West Pokot women whose survival has solely been dependent on string beads. The Ushanga Kenya initiative has now embarked on a mission to improve quality of their string beads products with the aim of attracting international markets and ultimately boosting their income.

450 women who are actively in the string beads industry have been on a month-long training on how to use hi-tech machines to produce quality art work for global markets.
This involves innovations and creativity as well as technical use of the machines as the industry now turns its focus from the traditional handwork to modern ways of production with value addition.
While launching the training exercise being conducted by Ushanga Kenya Initiative, Culture and Heritage CS Amina Mohamed said the Ushanga programme will increase income for women from pastoralist counties who have been victims of middlemen who exploit them with peanuts.

The CS said the value added products will hit international markets easily; yielding good returns that will make the industry an economic powerhouse.
The ministry committed to searching for international Markets to cushion the women from reap off from unscrupulous vendors.
Ushanga Kenya initiative CEO Dorothy Mashipei said the five-year project is being implemented in seven counties: Narok, Kajiado, Samburu, West Pokot, Turkana, Marsabit and Baringo but West Pokot has taken the lead in receiving the training.
Ms. Mashipei who was impressed with the artwork already done by West Pokot women expressed confidence that the project has a bright future.
West Pokot County Secretary John Karamunya lauded the initiative, saying it is the most practical way of improving the livelihoods of families in the pastoralist communities. He assured the Cabinet Secretary of unwavering support from the county government in ensuring the success of the project.

Culture, CEC Joel Arumonyang’ and his Trade counterpart Francis Kitelauyan said with the training and equipment provided by the Ushanga initiative, West Pokot women will soon outshine their men in economic power and hence have their say and secure their rightful place in the society.

As a county, we value our development partners and as such consultative engagements and meetings are prioritized when it comes to them.

DAN Church AID and Anglican Development Services(ADS) team held a consultative meeting with various department heads in order to map out specific areas for implemention of development projects .

The meeting coordinated by the Directorate of Resource Mobilization and Donor Coordination led by Director Elizabeth Gichuki saw current and upcoming projects in the county discussed where projects including Ajira POA targeting 2000 youth for skills development- Ksh.47M, STRAPEL project targeting food security for 3,200 households - Ksh 12M and a project for pyrethrum farming and its market system circles -Ksh. 5.475B are set to be implemented in the county on a four years program.

County government officials led by the county Secretary Eng. John Karamunya applauded the donors continous support terming it a blessing that can never be measured. 'We will continue to work together to develop West Pokot County' he said.

In attendance were Joel Arumonyang-CECM for tourism,culture,sports and social services, Patrick Kibuku- Head of programs, (DAN Church Aid), Peter Nyorsok -Executive Director(ADS-North Rift) among other county officials and donor teams.