Better times lie ahead for local farmers thanks to plans to build a Sh70 million mango processing factory in the area.
The factory, a partnership between the county government and the government of Slovakia, is expected to be ready in April next year.
The deal will also extend to education and health where personnel will be trained to boost their capacities.
"Other than helping establish us the mango factory, the Slovakian government has also promised to help us grow and market macadamia, which have huge potential for wealth generation especially in Kerio Valley," said governor Alex Tolgos, who spoke in Iten yesterday.
He added: "Last week, we made a lot of strides when I met the Ambassadors of Slovakia Frantisek Dlhopolcek and his Italian counterpart. They are keen on supporting our farmers through the setting up of factories. We also discussed the potential in agribusiness.”
The new factory will be a relief to farmers who have been incurring massive losses due to lack of value addition facilities.
Tonnes of mangoes have been going to waste each year, also due to lack of access to markets.
Tolgos said the Italian government has also promised to help connect local traders to international markets.
"Italian ambassador said he will form a team comprising officials from the embassy, the county and an Italian Non-Profit Organisation known as AITAN that has been connecting African traders to markets abroad,” the governor said.
Tolgos said the team will look into ways farmers can produce more, both for local and international markets.
"My dream is to ensure value addition to our produce. We want to make more exports. We will continue sourcing for markets for our produce. I want to encourage our people to venture into growing cash crops because they have better returns,” he said.
The county boss said the foreign partners have also pledged to support macadamia farming. "They are ready to establish nurseries, through Ten Senses Company, which buys and processes macadamia."
A delegation from Slovakia is expected to visit the county next year when the plans will be rolled out officially.
Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has already procured the land on which the firm will be set up.
KVDA managing director David Kimosop said the factory will have capacity to process five tonnes of mangoes per hour. "This will cut losses farmers incur because of factors such as lack of value addition and limited access to markets," he said.
“Mango farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet, West Pokot and Baringo counties have been incurring huge losses due to lack of markets but this will now be a thing of the past when we start value addition. The factory will process other fruits,” said Kimosop.