- LIVE TV
West Pokot County plans to export mango juice to Netherlands and Europe once its Sh80 million processing factory in Tot starts operations.
The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) plans to establish a factory in West Pokot County as more pastoralists in the semi-arid region turn to horticultural farming as an alternative source of income.
KVDA has partnered with a Dutch firm ABAC to construct the mango factory to save farmers from exploitation by middlemen who offer low prices, managing director David Kimosop said.
“Organic mango juice will be extracted from the fruit pulp which can be used as a flavour for ice cream or even yoghurt,” said Mr Kimosop, adding that the county will target markets like Netherlands and Europe.
He said the construction of the plant is expected to commence in the next six months following the signing of a contract between KVDA and the Dutch firm.
The factory will save farmers between Sh8m- Sh10 million used to transport mangoes, bananas, paw paws, passion fruits and watermelons to far markets. It is expected to benefit six sub-counties in the region.
He said the Dutch firm will offer Sh60 million while the authority will source for the remaining Sh20 million from the government.
The region produces an average of 25,000 tonnes of mangoes annually, but KVDA is looking to encourage farmers to increase production to 250,000 tonnes in the next one year.
“More than 40 per cent of mangoes produced in the region go to waste due to lack of markets while middlemen offer low prices for the fruits. But this will be a thing of the past once the factory is set up,” Mr Kimosop said.
The farmers in the region grow fruits and vegetables under furrow irrigation scheme shared among members of the Pokot, Turkana and Marakwet, communities that have been enemies for years, but are now business partners.
The county is looking to increase land under irrigation to over 300,000 hectares as it seeks to tame poverty.
KVDA has urged farmers to form co-operative societies and sign contracts with the processing firm as outgrowers and eventually turn into shareholders.
Mr Kimosop also said that Israeli and Chinese investors have expressed interest in power generation, mining and irrigation projects in the region.
“Small-scale electricity generating plants are to be constructed at Arror, Wei Wei, Torok and Kimwarer to increase power to the national grid,” said Mr Kimosop.
– Business Daily