Counties

Sh430m tomato factory boost for Kajiado farmers

Kajiado-tomato

A tomato farm in Kajiado County. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • Tomato farmers in Loitokok, Kajiado County are set to benefit from a Sh430 million factory.
  • The Kimana modern tomato factory is funded by the national government under the Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority (ENSDA) after years of farmers hue and cry.

Tomato farmers in Loitokok, Kajiado County are set to benefit from a Sh430 million factory.

The Kimana modern tomato factory is funded by the national government under the Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority (ENSDA) after years of farmers hue and cry.

ENSDA Managing Director Ngala Oloitiptip said the Loitoktok agricultural belt produced tomatoes worth Sh1.3 billion between 2019 and 2020, becoming the second largest commercial tomato producer in the country after Kirinyaga County.

However, the farmers are said to have lost 40 percent of the total harvest amounting to Sh300 million in every four months due to middle men and market inconsistencies.

"Tomato farmers in this region have been recording colossal losses annually. Upon the completion of the tomato factory ENSDA will be buying tomatoes directly from the farmers at competitive prices," said Mr Ngala.

The factory, he said, will process the tomato “as a value addition measure” to reap more benefit in the regional market.

The ENSDA being one of the regional development authorities under the Ministry of Regional Development will advise farmers on quality of seeds and farm inputs to ensure high quality produce.

Locals will also benefit from job opportunities in the new factory.

"Towards the country’s Vision 2030, the government is encouraging tomato farmers to tap more into the regional market through processing their farm produce. We want to make the tomato agri business lucrative," he added.

The factory is expected to be up running by the end of 2022.

Currently, tomato farmers in the Rombo agricultural belt, Kajiado South Subcounty are faced with high cost of fertiliser and increased fake inputs, making them incur massive losses.

Middlemen are still using ‘turbo’ crate of tomato — comprising three normal crates —which they buy at Sh6,000 each. Farmers term the price low and oppressive.

Farmers say the county government’s tomato packaging regulations are ineffective, leaving farmers at the mercy of brokers.

Devastated farmers say unscrupulous middlemen are selling them ineffective fertilizer decreasing tomato yields.The upper belt of Loitok tok region at the foot of Mt Kilimanjaro has been the county food busket.Farm produces are ferried to Nairobi and Mombasa.