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Sh158m banana factory starts making flour, boosts economy

 

Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa (2nd left) and Kisii Governor James Ongwae (2nd right) are taken through a newly built banana factory in Kisii County at Kisii Agricultural Training Center yesterday. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

A Sh158 million banana processing factory has started operations, providing a much-needed market for local produce.

The factory situated at Kisii Agricultural Training Centre, which was commissioned by Defence Cabinet Secretary Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa will produce banana flour.

Mr Wamalwa, who is also acting Devolution Cabinet secretary, said the commissioning of the project is a realisation of devolution.

“The Government is keen on manufacturing as part of the Big Four Agenda. These are projects being implemented across the country.

“There are those who deserted the government and don’t know what we are doing. Let them continue with politicking, but we will ensure we have commissioned such projects across all counties,” he said. The CS said the plant had come at the ‘right time’ in improving sale margins and increasing county revenue.

“The main market for flour will be medical facilities to improve nutritional value. We advise the county government to ensure locals benefit from the project despite the fact that it will be leased to a private investor,” the Cabinet secretary said.

Kisii Governor James Ongwae said: “The area under production has slightly reduced to around 7,000 hectares with nearly 240,000 metric tonnes annually. We intend to promote tissue culture banana due to its disease-resistant nature.”

Mr Ongwae said Kisii is the leading producer of green bananas in Kenya. “We have had the issue of poor market structures which is either formal or structured. The issue of intermediaries and middlemen has also been a challenge. They take home more than 60 per cent; the banana factory will help us sort this menace.”

The governor said the county will put up an administration block at the facility. “The project will be churning out 80 tonnes per day. We have the capacity to do more.”

The branding of the banana flour output, the governor explained, will be agreed upon after the successful identification of the investor.

“We will also be doing wine and fibre to ensure maximum gain in the commercialisation process,” said Mr Ongwae.

European Union representative Stephene Wathome said the union was pleased to commission the project in line with the 2010 Constitution that established devolution through county governments.

“The project is a testimony of what was entrenched in devolution. We are convinced that the project will translate to increased income to households,” Wathome said.

Devolution Principal Secretary Julius Korir said: “The county identified the project to spur economic growth in rural areas.”

The main activities for the project include building and equipping the plant with a flour processing line, capacity building of the 2,250 value chain actors and enhancing banana productivity.