Despite bumper harvest, mango farmers suffer losses due to middlemen

Traders display mangoes at Riosiri market in Kisii County [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

Mango farmers have protested against exploitation by unscrupulous middlemen who buy the fruits at very low prices and go on to make exorbitant profits. 

The farmers from Mbooni sub-county said the brokers buy the produce at Sh5 per kilogram, thereby denying them an opportunity to make profit.

A kilo of mangoes is supposed to fetch about Sh35.

Led by the chairman of a local farmers' Community Based Organisation (CBO) Peter Mwanthi, the angry farmers appealed to Governor Kivutha Kibwana to come to their aid, and assist them make some money from the sale of the fruits.

They also want the governor to help them take the mangoes to a fruits factory in the area.

"We have no capacity to take our mangoes to the factory since it's far from here and we're now forced to offload them at exploitative prices to the brokers," lamented Mwanthi.

Some of the farmers have opted to let the fruits rot on the trees rather than sell them at "almost free" to the middle men.

"We are just trying to make ends meet through mango farming. Some of us have children who we need to take to school but we can't afford it," said Mwanthi.

But even as they lamented, Prof Kibwana was showcasing the bumper harvest of mangoes and noted that his administration is eying the international market.

"Mango season in Makueni County Kalamba Fruit Processing Plant," said the governor as he shared pictures of the ripe crop bought from farmers through their co-operatives.

Chief officer in the Deputy Governor's office Stephen Kilonzo said there was need to bring farmers and other stakeholders in a mutual understanding for the good of the sector.