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Kenyan firms to supply Sh320m farm machines to DRC

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Mr Gerald Masila, Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) executive director. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Kenyan firms have secured a deal to supply farm equipment worth Sh320 million to farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) as part of efforts to curb post-harvest losses that cut stock of cereals produced in the landlocked State.

The 14 Kenyan firms, among them Cimbria East Africa, Muharata Food Company and Vestegaard, on Friday signed 22 different contracts with 17 DRC counterparts for the supply of post-harvest handling equipment.

The equipment include grain cleaners, dryers, seed processors, packaging machines, graders, and quality testing equipment such as moisture meter, labelling and milling machines for agro-processing.

Also sought by DRC farmers are tractors, ploughs, planters and harvesters in a deal described by insiders as “the beginning of new business relations” between the two states.

“This is the first business to business arrangement we have ever organised with agro-machinery suppliers and other players in agricultural value chain and we hope to learn so as to be sharper in match-making into the future” Mr Gerald Masila, Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) executive director said.

Kenya, where post-harvest losses are estimated to claim up to 30 percent of annual production, has over the years developed internal capacity in effort to reverse the trend.

The more than 80 million-people in DRC, on the other hand, lack capacity to handle harvests and their newly produced grains currently have to be shipped to neighbouring States such as Uganda and Zambia for such services.

Stanbic Bank, which has extended its operations to DRC, is set to arrange for the financing of the transactions, its Kivu region branch sales manager George Nyakundi said.

Ms Mishell Buhendwa, co-founder of Buhendwa & Michael Enterprises, a large scale cereal and grain producer based in Masisi-Ruchulu region of eastern DRC, said they were looking to affordable terms of payments from the banks.

“With the initiative (buying Kenya’s postharvest handling technologies), food will not only become cheaper, but quality will also improve, facilitating regional trade and empowering the residents,” said Mr Herman Mutabata, proprietor of Agri-Force Enterprises, a DRC-based seed merchant.

The sentiments were echoed by DRC Nairobi Commercial attaché, Emmanuel Karibu.

“The trend 10-15 years ago was Kenyans going for DRC timber and minerals but of late, we have trade delegations visiting and collaborating with locals to sell technologies that are improving the quality of life and production.”

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