Mango farmers in Malindi will start supplying their produce to a new factory set to start operations early next month, renewing hope of better earnings this harvest season.
The Sh75 million plant will crush 60 tonnes of raw mangoes every day. Another factory is also set to open in Hola, Tana Delta. With a combined capacity to process 90 tonnes of raw mangoes in a day, the new factories are expected to significantly improve farm gate prices paid to farmers.
Malindi and Tana Delta are the main producers of Ngowe mango, which is preferred for juice making.
Malindi alone produces over 70 per cent of the total production of the variety in the Coast province.
The new plant was set up by the Malindi Farmers Cooperative Society, which has been buying raw mangoes from its members for sale to the juice manufacturers. The project was funded by the Micro Enterprise Support Programme Trust (MESPT) that receives support from Danida, a Danish funding institution. The project was built from last year on a Build Operate Transfer (BOT) arrangement and MESPT will transfer it to the co-operative once the capacity to run it is established.
“We felt there was a great need to construct the factory in the region since farmers were losing huge volumes of raw mangoes due to lack of a reliable market,” Genya Nyale, the MESPT project coordinator in Malindi said, adding that the plant will produce pulp, which is a semi processed product that other juice manufacturers will use to make ready to drink juices.
The pulp can be stored for a long period of time and will also reduce the cost of transport associated with selling raw mangoes, which sometimes go bad before they even secure a market. Total wastage is estimated at 40 percent of the total collections.
In Malindi, there are over 12,000 mango farmers with an estimated 120,000 trees lying on 1,700 hectares of land, according to the results of a baseline survey on the crop carried out in 2009 by Institutional Development and Management Services (IDM), a research firm.
Since mango is a seasonal crop, an addition of equipment to the machines that were imported from Italy will create capacity for the factory to process passion, pineapples and water melon, Nyale said.
The new plant has increased the Coast province processing capacity to 260 tonnes of mango everyday. In addition to the two new factories, other major processors in the region include Allfruits EPZ limited in Mikindani, which process about 100 tonnes of mango everyday for export to Europe and Milly Fruit famous for Picana brand that is able to crush about 70 tonnes of mangoes per day.
Over the past couple of years, consumers have become conscious of the benefits of keeping a healthy lifestyle, increasing demand for juices and other natural and healthy foods.
The overall market for fruit juice in Kenya is estimated to be 25 per cent every year.
The new plant in Hola is owned by the Coast Development Authority (CDA), a government agency. The plant will also process other farm produce such as tomatoes and paw paw, which have great potential in the agricultural rich region.
The plant sits on a 200-acre land that was acquired from the Tana River County and will also host a honey refinery with a capacity to process one tonne of honey a day. It will also host an agriculture training institute.
This new development is seen as a major boost to an industry that has suffered huge losses due to waste especially for farmers in areas far from the market such as Tana River. Due to poor marketing, the production of mango has not been commercialized leading to poor crop husbandry.
The entire cost has a population of 1.3 million trees, according to the baseline survey estimated to be valued at Sh260 million. However this value is expected to improve significantly following the ongoing value addition initiatives.
CDA projects intends to contract 1,000 farmers who will be provided with fast maturing mango seedlings and technical support to produce all the raw materials the plant will require, the authority’s official said recently.
In Tana River, there are over 5,000 mango farmers with 57,000 trees lying on 816 hectares of land according to the baseline survey.