Kerio Valley farmers are protesting stalling of a mango project meant to cushion them against perennial losses.
A processing machine installed by the Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) in 2018, is gathering dust as farmers rely on exploitative middle men from Nairobi and other regions, who swarm the area popular for mango production in this season of the year.
“The factory has been deserted for more than a year now. It was installed and later abandoned and no one is explaining why it is not operational,” said Wilson Kiptoo, a mango farmer.
The Sh100 million factory in Tot, Marakwet East constituency was expected to process from farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet and West Pokot.
The farmers have been selling their mango fruits at about Sh300 per bag. “The factory processed some mangoes after it was installed but since the piloting, nothing has happened,” he said.
Another mango farmer, Kevin Kemboi said mangoes rot in farms as farmers wait for the factory to begin adding value to their fruits. “Thousands of tons of mangoes went to waste this season. It is shocking that the factory is lying idle,” he said.
But KVDA acting Managing Director Sammy Naporos (pictured) defended the project and said the agency is awaiting certification from the Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) before commencing commercial processing.
“We have delayed the processing because of compliance issues. We are also engaging in crafting mangoes in a bid to enable farmers produce quality mangoes. We expect to process at 15 tons of mangoes per day as soon as we get Kebs compliance,” he said.
Naporos also said the authority is sourcing funds from an Italian corporation for the revival of projects destroyed by heavy rains in West Pokot and Turkana. The projects include Weiwei and Lomut irrigation schemes in West Pokot as well as Napuu and Loiyapat irrigation schemes.
On the controversial Sh15.4 billion Arror dam, the Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority CEO said KVDA is yet to get the greenlight from the East African Community and Regional Development Ministry. “The issue of Arror dam is beyond the agency and I have no authority to comment about it. We are yet to get official communication, which should be in writing from those in higher authority before we proceed,” he said.
In September, President Uhuru Kenyatta ordered cancellation of Sh22 billion Kimwarer dam and scaling down of Arrow dam.
Majority of the development projects have stalled since February last year after the authority came under scrutiny over implementation of multipurpose Arror and Kimwarer dams, both in Elgeyo Marakwet County and later sacking of former MD David Kimosop on May 30, 2019.
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