Kitui County has procured a Sh 20 million fruit processing machine using part of its Sh 420 million Covid-19 government funding to mitigate post-harvest losses, leverage on value addition and increase farmers’ profitability.
The food processing machinery has a production capacity of 5 tonnes per hour that translates to 40 tonnes in an 8-hour working day, 200 tonnes five days per week and 800 tonnes in a month.
The county governor Charity Ngilu, received the machinery delivered at the Kitui Foods plant located within the precincts of the Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) and will be used for tomato and fruits value addition.
“Quality final products like tomato sauces, ketchup, tomato paste and fruit juices will now be processed and packaged right here in Kitui by our very well-trained youth, said Governor Ngilu on in Kitui.
Governor Ngilu said that in setting up the Kitui Foods plant, it will create job opportunities and create a ready market for the farmers’ produce.
“Kitui farmers will pocket better earnings for their produce and be assured of a steady income from their self-employment in horticulture,” she said.
Similarly, Kitui Enterprise Promotion Company (KEPC), a mango processing firm in Kitui in collaboration with the National Environment Trust Fund has helped more than 800 farmers in Kitui to reduce post- harvest losses through value addition of their fruits.
James Mutio is one of the local farmers who have benefited from KEPC initiative. “I started with 50 mango trees back in the year 2012 and currently I have 200 mango trees”
“Previously I used to experience 60 per cent post-harvest losses which have now reduced to 20% as a result of value addition of the mango fruit,’ said Mutio.
He said that the mangoes have enabled him to diversify revenue streams as a result of product range including mango powder, juices, fortified flours and mango flakes acquired from the mango processing.
“The project was started in the year 2012 to help women become resilient to climate change, address the challenges of post-harvest losses and enhance diversification in the use of the mango fruit bearing in mind that the fruit is seasonal,” says KEPC Chairman David Muthoka.
Muthoka disclosed that KEPC processes mango juice, mango powder and fortified flour with the aim of increasing incomes from commercialised agricultural value chains to improve livelihoods of over 800 small scale farmers in the County.
‘We utilize appropriate technologies, knowledge, skills and available resources to produce healthy additive to juices that can fortify other products like porridge flour and maize to enhance nutritional value,’ said the Chairman.
Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) reports that agriculture plays a significant role in Kenya’s economy accounting for 32.9 per cent of gross domestic product with an estimated 75 per cent of Kenya’s population involved in some agricultural activity.
By Yobesh Onwong’a