Mango farmers in Tana River County are upbeat after the Galole Fruit Processing plant began processing pulp.
This comes after farmers endured three seasons of poor fortunes as a result of extortion from middlemen, who buy the fruit at Sh3.
The development was long overdue and marks a new dawn for the mango growers, said farmer Hussein Buko.
“We have waited six years to hear it roar back to life. We have witnessed all efforts and watched the journey towards its recovery. I hope this time it’s for good,” he said.
The plant, he said, will rescue farmers from losses of more than 15,000 tonnes of mangoes every season, giving back to them more than Sh7 million.
The worst hit area was Tana Delta, the highest producer, he said.
Nevertheless, farmers said henceforth they will prioritise supplying fruit to the plant to ensure sustainable production.
Each farmer will be required to deliver to the factory five tonnes of mangoes per day. It will crush one tonne of mangoes per hour, producing 500kg of pulp per tonne.
But farmers noted that the plant will need to expand its production capacity as the season sets in.
The plant has enough capacity to handle fruit produced in the county and its neighbours, said Griffin Muthomi, the Coast Development Authority’s director of business development, partnership and collaboration.
Mr Muthomi appealed to farmers to embrace value addition to their crops and consider the factory first in their harvest.
“This factory is here to improve the living standards of coastal smallholder fruit farmers and create employment for the youth. Residents should supply it sufficiently to have it running,” he said.
He noted that the plant will provide market outlets for local farmers through direct purchasing of raw mangoes from them thus reducing post-harvest losses.
The parastatal will kick off a capacity building campaign for farmers to enhance yields and ensure constant supply of raw materials for continuous production, he said.
Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata urged farmers to make good use of farming to revolutionise enterprises in the region.
He noted that the plant is part of the Big Four agenda and will improve industrialisation and enhance food security.
He reiterated that the plant will directly contribute to improving the livelihoods of more than 30,000 households in Garissa, Kilifi, Lamu, and Tana River counties.
“This is an opportunity for these farmers to better their lives. It’s an end to slavery and the market misfortunes,” he said.