Gov James Orengo’s vision for Kenya’s Siaya County

The evolutionary economic ideas of Senator James Orengo, Siaya County Governor in Kenya, is silently speaking aloud in Kenya, across the continent and courting attention globally.

It would have been surprising if the renowned politician’s past perilous journey of standing for sustenance of democratic values in the East African country would not be a means to the socio-economic wellbeing of his people. Being a political activist since his undergraduate years as a law student at the University of Nairobi, where he became president in 1973, Senator James Orengo has dedicated his entire life to the course of his people through forging democratic values and ideals.

Before making history as the youngest MP at 29 in Kenya, after he was elected for Ugenya Constituency as a KANU candidate in 1980, he was exiled in Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe in the early 1980s to escape the repressive Kanu regime. He, alongside former president, Raila Odinga, and other notable politicians,were the most prominent critics of the single-party regime. He agitated for multiparty democracy, a new constitution, free and fair elections, among other issues of public interest.

Senator James Orengo lost his bid to become president in 2002 under the Social Democratic Party (SDP), but won a seat as a senator in 2013, for Siaya County and was re-elected four years later. He was chosen by then-president, Odinga, to  serve as part of the task force team to implement Building Bridge Initiative (BBI),  having earlier served as Minister for Lands in the new Coalition Government formed by the National Accord Act of 2008. In 2022, he won the Siaya Governor Seat with ODM party under Azimio la Umoja one Coalition.

For about two years now, Siaya County has tangibly been reaping Senator James Orengo’s sweeping reformational policies in agricultural, energy generation sustainability, infrastructural development, among other people-driven programmes. To commemorate the 2024 international workers day, he revealed support for farmers in the country, with the distribution of Sunflower seed, with the endgame of evolving the County into being the largest producer of Sunflower in the world. The visionary Siaya County governor also disclosed the distribution of pest-resistant BT and OPV Cotton seeds to the Uyoma Farmers’ Cooperative Society.

“The next world’s billionaire will definitely come from Siaya County’s agricultural industry. Sunflower farming will open up the new frontier in Siaya. On this Labour Day we pray for the victims of the floods currently ravaging the country and stand in solidarity with the doctors who have been on strike for more than 40 days. We hope for a quick resolution of the stalemate to avert the very many deaths that are currently happening in our public hospitals. Workers unite and organize! My government has today commenced the distribution of 16.35 tons of sunflower seeds in the entire county. These seeds will benefit at least 10,000 farmers across the county on an acre age of more than 6,000 acres. These effort are meant to increase our sunflower productivity from the current 2.7tons to over 16 metric tons annually,” he said.

“Our Agriculture Department delivered BT and OPV Cotton seeds to the Uyoma Farmers’ Cooperative Society. The Bt cotton is a genetically modified pest resistant plant cotton variety that produces an insecticide to combat bollworm while the OPV is Resistant to bacterial blight, and suitable for rainfed areas. We are putting the long rains currently being experienced in very good use. The distribution of these seeds will ensure that we increase our yield from the current 300kg per acre to 2,500kg per acre. It is the opportune time to revamp and modernize our Cotton value chain and ensure that we achieve our optimal production level as a county.”

In Decmber 2023, Senator James Orengo, who is marrried to popular human rights expert, Betty Kaari Murungi, represented the Lake Region Economic Bloc (LREB), in India, for an agreement on establishing a Solar Energy Park with a 280MW capacity, distributing between 10-50MW to each of the 14 LREB counties, inclusing Siaya. Part of the MoU aims to extend the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) from Naivasha to the Malaba corridor, concentrating on creating an interlinking railway network connecting the 14 LREB counties, including Kisumu, Siaya, Migori, Homa Bay, Kisii, Nyamira, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia, Vihiga, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Nandi, and Kericho.

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