Migori County has launched a project which looks forward to freeing farms from Tobacco farming and setting a record as the first county among tobacco-growing counties.
Speaking during the launch, Migori County Secretary Mr. Cristopher Rusana pointed out that the launched project will give tobacco farmers an alternative solution to help them halt tobacco farming.
Rusana revealed that they have already distributed certified beans to tobacco farmers and most of them have already embraced bean farming which has brought them higher profits.
Rusana further noted that, tobacco farming was a health and environmental hazard that needed eradication to preserve the health of the tobacco growers.
The Director in charge of Crops Management in the State Department for Crop Development and Agriculture Research Mr. Douglas Kangi, said that their primary mandate is to ensure food and nutrition security in the country as well as income raise for the Kenyan farmer.
The official said the department has implemented many programmes as an alternative livelihood to Kenyan farmers which has contributed to food sustainability in the majority of the tobacco-growing counties.
Regional Director Farm To Market Alliance (FtMA) Mr. Simon Cammelbeeck noted that the project will encourage the remaining tobacco farmers to shift to beans production because of its profitability and less labor involved. He pointed out that they have already provided a ready market that has made it more lucrative as compared to hazardous tobacco farming.
Cammelback added that they have already set up 48 farmer service centers in the county where four bean biometric tanks were being used for this particular programme.
Dr. Ephantus Maree from the Ministry of Health- Department of Non-Communicable Diseases said that, they enhanced the partnership as a ministry due to frequently experienced non-communicable diseases in areas that practice tobacco farming. He noted that the ministry was trying to hunt and reverse the trend of non-communicable diseases in the country to ensure a healthier society.
Dr. Maree acknowledged that one of the major contributing factors towards the development of non-communicable diseases is the use of tobacco products. He noted that the government was striving to make sure that they reduce the supply of tobacco in the country to promote healthier living styles to the future generation.
In addition, Ms. Nancy Kachoka the Chair Tobacco Control Board (TCB) pointed out that the country cannot achieve the Universal Health Coverage (UHC) if Kenyan farmers were still producing tobacco products. She said that tobacco was a public health disaster that needed urgently to be eradicated.
Kachoka noted that tobacco-growing areas were experiencing social-economic issues like gender-based violence, poverty, child labor, and non-communicable diseases. She noted that the country introduced the Tobacco Control Act to make it a free tobacco nation. Kachoka applauded the efforts to provide alternative crop production to tobacco farming to ensure that the country is a tobacco-free society in order to prevent Non-communicable diseases.
The launch was attended by representatives from various ministries, World Health Organisation (WHO), Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and World Food Programme (WFP).