A UK-funded pulse processing facility in Meru County is expected to help raise the earnings of farmers as well as improve the value of exports.
Run by Shalem Investment Ltd, a beneficiary of FoodTrade East and Southern Africa, the plant will enable smallholder farmers to improve the quality of their produce.
Farmers incur losses of up to 30 per cent in post-harvest losses every year due to poor handling of crops.
“By setting up the processing plant, we will enable smallholder farmers to move further up the value chain from market takers to market makers,” says Ruth Kinoti, CEO Shalem Investments.
The plant is part of a wider project funded by Britain through the FoodTrade ESA programme. The project aims to build the capacity of smallholder farmers to produce the quality and quantities of pulses to enable them participate in regional trade.
FoodTrade ESA provides grants to projects that bridge gaps in staple food value chains, to benefit smallholder farmers and consumers.
The modern equipment includes a mobile dryer at a cost Sh11 million, a grain and legume cleaner, an aflatoxin testing facility as well as a milling plant. It will process maize, beans, sorghum, millet, soybeans and green grams.
The project covers Meru, Tharaka Nithi, Embu, Nyamira, Homa Bay, Laikipia, Nakuru and Kitui.
The firm also sources the produce from smallholder farmers in Uganda and Tanzania through agents.
Through its projects, FoodTrade ESA is able to promote and enhance regional trade, and bring smallholder farmers closer to the centre of production, processing and marketing functions of staple food value chains.
All farmers contracted by Shalem Investment Ltd under the FoodTrade ESA project will benefit from access to the processing plant.