The Coast Development Authority (CDA) has unveiled its first bottled water product in the arid Tana River County.
The state corporation was established in 1990 with the mandate to provide integrated development planning, coordination and implementation of projects and programmes within the coastal region including the southern part of Garissa County.
The new product bearing the brand name ‘Tana Best’ is being rolled out at the Galole fruit processing factory located in the outskirts of Hola town.
For the water bottling plant, the CDA will be getting the water from River Tana that meanders into the vast region.
The Authority MD Dr. Mohamed Keinan said they have upgraded the fruit juice manufacturing equipment to include a bottled water production line.
Dr. Keinan said Tana River, a hitherto backwater arid region is now rising and happy to join the burgeoning and thriving water bottling and juice processing business in the country.
“We have injected Sh7.5 million to install state-of-the-art water treatment and packaging equipment,” he said, adding that appropriate planning and research were done to ensure the new product was a success.
The MD said all development projects in the coastal region were being aligned to the national government’s agenda of universal healthcare, affordable housing, food security, and manufacturing.
“As we seek to spur socio-economic development and promote value addition, Tana River’s first bottled water venture fits well into the manufacturing sector and job creation efforts by the government,” he said.
Dr. Keinan said the new venture into the water bottling business was an attempt at ‘value addition’ since the mango juice processing plant remained dormant especially when the mangoes are not in season.
“The factory has 30 employees and when it is not running during the mango low season they remain idle and so we had to explore other options to keep the factory functioning round the year and keep employees busy,” he said.
Dr. Keinan disclosed plans are underway to upgrade the Galole factory to a multi-fruit juice facility to include processing pineapples, guava, watermelon, chili, and tomato sauce with carton packaging after undergoing an expansion.
The fruit project which was built in 2012 has capacity to process 30 metric tonnes of mangoes a day and there are 30 direct workers and 2,250 mango collectors serving the plant.
He termed the bottled water initiative in the region a ‘milestone’ noting that CDA will create market linkages targeting Tana River and the neighbouring counties of Garissa, Lamu, and Kilifi.
“We also have a plan to export our new fruit products other than mango juice to the neighbouring counties including Garissa, Lamu, Kilifi, and Mombasa” said Dr. Keinan.
He gave the assurance that the ‘Tana Best’ purified drinking water is bottled under stringent hygienic condition and strict quality control at every stage of the treatment, under the supervision of well-trained technical staff.
Dr. Keinan was speaking Tuesday, when he conducted some of the CDA board of directors Beatrice Gambo and Amina Abdalla, on a tour of the facility during the new product launch on Monday.
The two directors said local communities have immensely appreciated the kind of investment made by the CDA.
Dr. Keinan said the plant’s processing capacity is 4,000 bottles of purified water an hour for sustainability.
The automatic bottle filling machine with a capacity of bottling 2,000 litres per hour and the Reverse Osmosis plant with a capacity of purifying 1,000 litres per hour were installed in July 2019.
Dr. Keinan noted the water bottling plant is projected to generate gross revenue of Sh6 million per month.
The fruit processing project coordinator Cynthia Mugo said the water is currently being supplied in 500 ml and one litre plastic water bottles.
She added plans are afoot to supply the water in different capacities like 0.5 litre, 1 litre, 16 litres and 20 litres which will be modified with specifications as per the clients’ requirements.
Ms. Mugo said a bale containing 24 pieces of half-liter bottles goes for Sh330 which is within the market range.
She said the integrated fruit and water processing plant will bring jobs to the area and will lead to further benefits within the supply chain.
The new developments have been welcomed by residents living near the factory saying it will create jobs for local youth.
A local community leader Harun Ali has hailed the upgrading of the fruit processing factory saying it will in the long run improve farmers’ livelihoods and also create jobs for the residents.
By Hussein Abdullahi