Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) has scaled up efforts to support and improve the livelihoods of residents in the Kerio Valley region through mango farming.
The Authority currently runs mega fruit irrigation projects at Weiwei in Sigor, Kimwarer, Kimao, Arror, and Tot which cumulatively have approximately 870,000 mango seedlings.
Speaking to KNA in an interview, the KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos said that the authority has been keen on supporting and promoting social economic development of communities carrying out mango farming adding that there were about 700 farmers who are registered to sell their products directly to KVDA.
He commended the national government’s efforts to establish a Sh40 million mango fruit factory at Tot in Elgeyo Marakwet to ensure farmers have a ready market to sell their products hence reducing transportation cost that could be incurred by transporting the products to Nairobi for processing.
“In the last five years, we have raised about 3 million mango seedlings. There is also a factory in Tot that started operation last year and was constructed by the government at a cost of Sh40 million,” said Naporos.
Naporos noted that KVDA aims at value addition to increase mango prices through promoting and replacing the indigenous varieties which have longer maturity period with grafted species like apple mangoes, ngowe and others which mature early in a span of 3 and half years with improved quality and quantity which fetch good prices in the market.
“When in full production, the factory is able to produce about 4.16 million litres of mango juice from the 35,000 tonnes of mangoes produced annually,” he said.
He pointed out that the authority in collaboration with the government had set up proper mechanisms to ensure continuous supply of mangoes to the factory through harvesting and storing enough mangoes during the peak season while at the same time cushioning farmers from exploitation from dealers who purchase mangoes at lower prices.
“The way we run currently is that during the peak season, we crush as many mangoes as possible and we store them, then during the dry period depending on the market demand for the juice, we process the mangoes into pulp which later will be processed into juice,” he said.
“During the peak season, lorries come from Nairobi to Tot and the prices drop as low as Sh5 per kilogramme. What we have done with the government, we have stabilized the prices to Sh15 per kilogramme,” added Naporos.
The Managing Director further said that the major source of the mangoes is Tot Elgeyo Marakwet, but they had been able to diversify to other areas like Cheptebo in Marakwet, Kapsowar, and Lomut in West Pokot.
The KVDA Managing Director pointed out that mango farming in Kerio valley region had helped achieve food security and livelihood support to communities hence promoting and addressing social economic issues which arise due to resource competition.
Through mango farming, the authority has helped address conflict issues among communities in Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo and Elgeyo Marakwet counties which arise due to resource competition as members of the communities strive to find a source of economic means forcing them to resort to cattle rustling.
“In regard to conflict management, the cattle rustling which is currently experienced in the valley is purely because of resource competition and when people have options that one will be cured, that is why we not only doing the mango farming, we have a number of irrigation schemes at Lomut, Weiwei, Arror Kamsuet and others. When we promote these initiatives, it lowers conflict because people are able to work together and have options to earn a living, not cattle rustling,” said Naporos.
By Ekuwam Sylvester and Ian Kimuya