dKENYA – The Coast Development Authority (CDA) has launched the upgraded KES 245 million (USD 1.6 million) worth Integrated Fruit Processing Plant (IFPP) in Tana River.
The project, which started in 2017, aims to alleviate post-harvest losses (PHL) in the region’s source of livelihood, mango farming.
The upgrading of the IFPP entailed the installation of a pulp processing plant, the construction of auxiliary facilities, and the establishment of a waste management system.
According to EAC, ASALs and Regional Development Cabinet Secretary (CS) Peninah Malonza, the facility is designed to mechanize mango processing into pulp at a rate of 1.5 metric tons per hour, moving from the manually operated plant to increase the capacity and efficiency.
The launch of the plant, she added, was in line with the Kenyan government’s Bottom-Up Economic Transformation Agenda (BETA) on agriculture and reducing post-harvest losses for farmers.
“In Tana River County, mangoes have been a cornerstone of the local economy for decades, bringing prosperity to over 30,000 households,” said Malonza.
According to her, Tana River farmers harvest over 50,000 tons of mangoes in a season and transport more than 35,000 tons to markets and industries in Mombasa, Garissa, and Nairobi.
“Unfortunately, a substantial portion of this precious produce remains unsold in local markets or, heartbreakingly, left to rot on farms due to the lack of buyers,” she explained.
The plant contributes to economic development through the provision of employment opportunities for locals, market outlets for farmers, income for fruit farmers and value addition of fruits.
As part of the upgrade, a water bottling component with a capacity to process 1,000L/H of purified water has been introduced to complement pulp processing and contribute to sustainability.
“We have introduced a water purification plant to ensure that every drop of water used in the processing is efficiently managed, reinforcing our commitment to responsible resource utilization,” stated Malonza.
Mango post-harvest losses are a significant challenge for farmers in Kenya. According to the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute, farmers often lose 40 – 45% of their crop due to poor harvesting and post-harvest handling techniques, pests, and diseases.
Meanwhile, the UN women in collaboration with Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) and Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI) and Techno Serve, and with funding from the Rockefeller Foundation have worked in Kenya to offer PHL solutions.
Through their collaboration, 100 farmers, half of them women, from Meru, Makueni and Tana River in counties, have been trained in fruit processing, packaging, and branding.
The UN Women organized a three-day training to offer insights on post-harvest handling and fruit processing techniques, using a new multi-food processing machine.
The machine can process 7.8 tons of mangoes every six hours and can be used to process other fruits as well.
“The main challenge that we have here as farmers is the rotting of mangoes on the trees,” explained one of the beneficiaries. “This is because of the overabundance of mangoes and lack of technologies to help us produce other products from the mangoes that we harvest.”
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