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Kisii avocado factory still a pipe dream five years later

Kisii Govenor James Ongwae leads Senate lands committee in touring Nyangweta forest in South Mugirango, the proposed site for the sugar factory. [Photo by Sammy Omingo/Standard]

It was envisaged to be a land mark investment since the advent of devolution. But five years later, the Kisii Avocado Processing factory remains a dream on paper.

The Sh150 million factory was meant to process 80 tonnes of the fruit daily and offer employment opportunities to hundreds of youth.

Farmers started growing avocado in anticipation of the big windfall. Now, they are wondering what to do with the fruits.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae launched the project in November 2013 graced by Australian and Turkish investors who were to set up the plant.

The factory would benefit residents of Kisii and Nyamira counties.

During the launch, Governor Ongwae said the county government had put measures in place to increase production of avocado per unit area. The measures would include funding of both individual and group nurseries, with a target of one million avocado seedlings per year.

He then flagged off 30 tonnes of avocado oil destined to Mexico in December 2014, with promises that the county was on the road to becoming a major avocado oil producer in the country. 

“The avocado processing plant will focus on value addition to produce juice, cooking oil and syrup extracts, earning farmers regular and reliable income besides creating jobs for the youths,” said Ongwae. 

Speaking during a recent farmers forum at the Kisii Agricultural Training Centre, Ongwae sought to allay fears that the factory had stalled.

A new contractor, he said, had been assigned the job, which would be completed in the next two months.

Due to delays in disbursement of funds from the National Treasury, the project was delayed.

“We are in touch with the investor, he will be coming back soon to continue with the production process,” said Ongwae.