Mango farmers in Tana River County will now benefit from an Integrated Fruit Processing Plant constructed by the Coast Development Authority at Boji near Hola.
The processor is worth Ksh.190,575 Million with a capacity of crushing 1.5tonnes of mangoes per hour.
Speaking to the press at Hanampiu Mikinduni, the farmers led by the vice-chairman of Galole Farmers Co-operative Society, Mr. Jilo Sale said, the move by Coast Development Authority (CDA) has brought “a paradigm shift” in the mango growing sector by enabling them to sell mangoes in tonnes and get good prices for their produce.
“An individual farmer harvests 10- 20 tonnes of mangoes and once delivered to the Hola Integrated Fruit Processing Plant, we get good dividends for the produce which has improved our living standards”, said Mr. Sale.
The farmers also lauded the CDA for capacity-building for farmers through training on harvesting and mitigating post-harvest losses which has really improved the quality of the produce.
Speaking during a tour of the plant, CDA Managing Director Dr. Mohamed Keinan revealed that, the plant covers mango farmers from Tana River, Garissa, Lamu, and Kilifi Counties.
Dr. Keinan noted that Tana River alone produces 223,360 tonnes of mangoes annually which used to be bought by middlemen and brokers for as little as 50 cents per piece before the construction of the processor at Boji by the Authority with Government funding.
“Tana River is one of the leading mango producers in Kenya. However, these farmers used to incur post-harvest losses ranging from 20-40% due to improper treatment and handling from harvesting to the ultimate consumer or factory. They also incur losses due to inadequate facilities for post-harvest handling, transportation, storage, and marketing which we have addressed through the construction of the plant”, the MD noted.
Following the operationalization of the processor, Keinan added, CDA will help farmers to add value to their produce using modern processing and packaging machinery besides processing the mangoes closer to the farmers.
“We have procured and installed modern machinery and equipment at the plant, completed the construction of auxiliary infrastructure, commenced buying of the mangoes from farmers in tonnes, processing the fruits throughout the year, and we purpose to employ 80% women and youth directly and another 1,500 indirectly besides training 3,000 farmers on good agricultural practices”, Dr. Keinan revealed.
The MD further said the integrated fruit processor at Boji near Hola will improve the production of quality fruits in the area, enhance efficiency and quality of production through value addition of fruits, create and increase employment opportunities for the youth and women, provide a market for fruit farmers besides enhancing the resource base for the CDA.
The MD revealed that the Integrated Fruit Processor in Hola which is also treating and packaging bottled water will also diversify and start crushing oranges, passion fruits, honey processing, and pineapples during the mango off-season in order to operate at its optimum in order to improve the living standards of the Coastal small-holder fruit farmer to enhance CDA’s revenue base.