KENYA – Farmers in Tana River County, Kenya, have been urged to utilize the KSh.100 million (US$800k) Galole Integrated fruit processing factory set up by the Coast Development Authority (CDA) to help reduce seasonal losses encountered given the usual bulk production over a single season, resulting in a market glut.

Speaking during a familiarization tour to assess the progress of the fruit facility, Principal Secretary (PS) State Department for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) and Regional Development Idris Salim Dokota asked local farmers to embrace the factory as a lucrative source of revenue for their produce.

He urged local farmers to wait for mangoes to grow to maturity and sell to CDA’s fruit processing plant, instead of brokers who have infiltrated the market, offering instant cash and exposing them to huge losses.

This, according to Dokota, allows the project first installed in 2014 to become viable and not a white elephant due to lack of business and raw material, adding that the factory was intended to source mangoes from Lamu, Kilifi, Kwale, and Garissa counties.

Tana River is one of the major mangos-producing counties in Kenya. The plant has the potential to process other fruits, such as pineapples, watermelons, and tomatoes for both local and international markets.

The plant can crush 8 tonnes of mangoes in a day to produce pulp for juice making and over 1,200 tons of mangoes per year. The pulp from the plant is christened Tana Gold and is patented. CDA sells the pulp to locals and major juice-producing companies.

“Investments in value addition are the only way to generate wealth and increase jobs, especially in rural areas,” said Dokota.

He also encouraged the neighboring counties to take up the opportunity of having readily available of their produce by growing more mango to supplement the Tana River and tapping into the value-addition project to reduce post-harvest losses.

Governor Dhadho Godhana said at the launch of the factory in 2021 that they have put in place strategies to increase mango production in Tana River County through grafting and other scientific methods and erected 11 mango collection centers.

Godhana further said they have trained bee farmers across the county on beekeeping and have supplied them with beehives to enhance honey production. The Integrated Fruit-Processing plant has a honey-processing component that can refine and package semi-refined honey for local consumption.

In addition, the plant can undertake water bottling for human consumption. This will guarantee constant production throughout the year, noted Griffin Muthomi, Director, Business Development, Partnership, and collaboration at CDA.

Speaking on behalf of the farmers Jilo Sale echoed the word of Galole Constituency MP Said Hiribae who had praised the project during the commissioning, saying farmers will not transport their mangoes to other counties, but appealed to the government to expand the plant for farmers to maximize their profits.

Sale also urged the authorities to explore ways of helping local farmers to learn about other value-addition practices for their produce.

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