The Japanese government has provided a grant of Sh8.4 million for the construction of a fruit processing factory and installation of a fruit gas dryer at AIC Cheptebo rural development centre.
The grant is a segment of the donor’s contribution towards the factory which when completed will cost a total of over Sh 11 million.
According to the Second Secretary at the Embassy of Japan in Kenya Fumiaki Hirai, the factory will enable farmers make value addition to their crops, reduce wastage during times of plenty, provide a sustainable market and a fair price thus increasing farmers’ income.
The Kenya Fruit Solutions (KFS) managing director Ms. Ayumi Yamamoto said they will provide a market for 10 tons of apple mangoes annually which translates to 300,000 pieces.
Speaking during the launch of the factory in Soy North Keiyo South Sub County, the centre director Joseph Kimeli said the centre will provide Sh2.7 million for the completion of the factory.
He said with the agreement signed between the centre and KFS, once complete the price of mangoes will rise from Sh5 to Sh12 per piece while the factory will provide employment to between 30-50 people directly.
“The factory will improve the economy of 8,000 farmers cutting across the Kerio Valley who have between 70,000 and 100,000 mango trees,” he said.
Kimeli said initially they had planned that the factory would only be dealing with mangoes but they were advised to include other fruits and horticultural products to ensure sustainability of operations when mangoes are out of season.
“However while we have secured a market for mangoes, we are yet to get a market for bananas, pumpkins and sweet potatoes which will also be processed in the factory,” he said.
He expressed confidence that they will meet the demand saying they have over 60,000 certified seedlings at the centre.
Addressing the same function, area governor Alex Tolgos called on farmers to ensure they meet the standards required to access the market by working jointly to eradicate fruit flies which has been a challenge in achieving the required quality for the international market.
The governor added that while the factory has provided a market for dried mangoes, there was need to look for market for fresh mangoes especially for the other varieties.
“We don’t have to look far for this market as it is available locally. Let us all form a habit of making fresh juice in our homes for ourselves and visitors as we have the sweetest mangoes, this way, we will not have to look for market outside,” he said.
North Keiyo Assistant County Commissioner Bernard Oloo called on the residents to redouble their efforts in conserving the environment for the project to succeed saying the destruction of the Kerio escarpment through burning of charcoal was alarming.