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Banana farmers to build juice, wine and beer factory in Meru

COUNTIES
By Phares Mutembei | August 8th 2015

Banana farmers in Meru County have formed a cooperative union to enable them increase production and pursue value addition.

The farmers have put 7,038 hectares under production of bananas and become Kenya’s biggest producers of it.

During a meeting of banana stakeholders at a Meru hotel recently, the farmers thanked the Kenya Bureau of Standards for giving them a licence to produce banana beer adding they will apply for a separate licence to produce banana wine and juice.

“Now that Meru has become the biggest producer of banana in Kenya, we want to increase production. Value addition is the way to go. We also want to establish more factories for banana juices, wines, beer and flour,” said Mwirigi Karinga, the chairman of the newly-established Banana Innovation Platform.

Dr Muthee Mwoga, coordinator of the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Programme, (KAPP) said Meru has become the leading producer of bananas because of innovative best practices.

“Now that banana farmers in Meru are feeding Kenya, we also want to empower them to produce wines, beers, flour. A factory will be established by October for production of the banana wine and beer,” said Dr Muthee.

Henry Mutegi, the KAPP’s monitoring and evaluation officer said they aim to ensure banana farmers are empowered.

Anne Kagendo, from Kaaria Banana Farmers, said they are already manufacturing banana crisps which they sell to shops and supermarkets.

Paul Kiambi, from Icobo, a company formed by banana farmers in Imenti South, said they are producing banana flour, which is used as a food flavor.

 "Our banana flour is used as a flavor for foods such as githeri, chapatti and porridge,” said Kiambi.

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