Mango farmers in Makueni County will benefit from a cold storage facility that will be constructed by the Agricultural Food Authority (AFA), the Board’s Chairman Cornelly Serem has said.
Serem said this on Tuesday at the Police Grounds in Wote town during the First National Mango Conference that was officially opened by Governor Mutula Kilonzo Jr. and attended by participants drawn from mango-growing counties in the country.
“The Governor has assured us that there is half an acre of land to construct the cold facility to avert exploitation of our farmers from middlemen. We are going to set monies aside from the next financial year,” said Serem.
While noting that they will help counties build capacity for extension officers, he added that his organization will also help the counties in the value-added chain and get markets for the mangoes.
Mango-growing counties represented included Machakos, Kwale, Kilifi, Tana River, West Pokot, Machakos, Embu, Meru, Murang’a, and also the United States Agency for International Development, among other participants.
“I assure you that we will partner with you and farmers. I have a team of knowledgeable officers who are ready to work with county governments in order to promote the horticultural sector,” he said.
Also, the chairman disclosed that his organization will work closely to increase the land under mango cultivation in the country, besides ensuring the mangoes meet the set standards internally, in a bid to reap maximum benefits for the farmers in the country.
Addressing the same event, Mutula lamented that mango farmers have been forgotten by the national government, saying only coffee, sugarcane, avocado, and tea farmers have been given preference by the government in the country.
He added that this had led to rampant exploitation of mango farmers by unscrupulous middlemen who benefited more, saying this was a mockery to the farmers.
“For far too long, mango farmers have suffered, been ignored, and been exploited. The national government has only preferred sugarcane, coffee, and avocado farmers in the country. Freedom is coming to mango farmers now,” Mutula posed.
“We want mango farmers to be given a table at the national desk,” he added.
The theme of the conference was “Winning Markets for Kenyan Mangoes by Building a Resilient and Competitive Mango Value Chain.”
The governor also urged the national government to put more resources into the mango sector to especially empower the cooperative movement.
The Governor thanked the partners and the national government who helped in ensuring the conference was held saying the resolutions would be taken to the National Assembly and Senate for discussion.
The main objectives were to explore opportunities in the mango value chain, provide a platform for business linkage, and enhance market access, to name a few.
The expected output from the conference included increased opportunities among mango value chain actors, increased market access for Kenyan mangoes, more business linkages, and information sharing among value chain actors’ solutions to mango value chain challenges and responsible institutions.
By Patrick Nyakundi and Samson Makau