A state agency implementing multimillion irrigation projects has kicked off production of mango processing in the fruit rich Kerio Valley.
The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) on Monday said the mango factory whose establishment started in 2018 is now operational.
The agency said the factory will produce high-quality mango juice to be distributed in the Rift Valley and Western regions and end the exploitation of fruit farmers in the Kerio Valley belt.
Managing Director Sammy Naporos said the factory started production of mango juice, in a pilot project that started earlier this month.
Naporos reported that 100,000 litres have been produced and distributed to supermarkets in the pilot juice processing.
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The mango business has thrived for decades in the Kerio Valley despite spells of bandit attacks linked to cattle theft, attracting 200 Lorries evacuating fruits to markets in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Kakamega as well as Tanzania.
Last year, farmers expressed concern over the delay in operationalization of the Sh60 million factory, lamenting that middlemen were taking advantage of a lack of a processor in the region to exploit them.
According to Naporos, the factory, which will be officially unveiled next month, will stabilize mango prices in the region.
The MD said the factory will increase demand for mangoes and resolve the perennial cattle rustling menace in the region.
“We have already produced 100,000 litres of ready to drink mango juice this month. The new product is already on supermarket shelves. We will be officially launching the commercial production of Tot mango Juice next month,” he told The Standard.
Naporos said the factory will also be processing tomatoes during the low mango season between April and August.
Last November, Elgeyo Marakwet chief officer for agriculture Edwin Seronei said out of the 50,000 tonnes of mangoes harvested every season in the valley, about 34,000 tonnes reach the market as others rot along bad roads in the area.
“The KVDA factory will also crush enough mangoes during the harvest season to maintain continuous production of ready to drink juice throughout the year,” Naporos said.
He said the establishment of Arror and Kimwarer dams in Elgeyo Marakwet will further increase the acreage of land under mangoes and increase raw materials for the new factory.