The State agency implementing multi-million shilling irrigation projects in the North Rift region has kicked off production of mango processing in the fruit rich but volatile Kerio Valley.
Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) Managing Director Sammy Naporos yesterday said the factory would produce juice to be distributed in the Rift Valley and Western regions, ending the exploitation of farmers.
The factory started production of mango juice this month in a pilot phase. Mr Naporos said 100,000 litres had been produced and distributed to supermarkets.
The mango business has thrived for decades in the Kerio Valley region despite spells of bandit attacks linked to cattle rustling.
It attracts 200 lorries that transport fruits to markets in Nairobi, Kisumu and Kakamega as well as Tanzania.
Last year farmers expressed concern over delayed operationalisation of the Sh60 million factory. The plant is expected to stabilise mango prices in the region.
He said the plant would increase demand for mangoes and resolve perennial cattle rustling menace in the region.
“We have already produced 100,000 litres of ready to drink mango juice. The new product is on supermarket shelves. We will be launching the commercial production of Tot Mango Juice next month,” he said.
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 reached the market. “Others rot due to bad roads,” she said.
Mr Naporos said Chepkum, Kamuswet Lomut irrigation schemes in Elgeyo Marakwet, as well as Wei Wei irrigation schemes in West Pokot, would increase mango and tomato production.