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Mango farmers in Makueni decry exploitation

Lack of a ready market has contributed to the continued exploitation of mango farmers in Makueni County by middlemen, who buy the commodity at low prices, only to sell the same at huge profits elsewhere.

The county chief officer for agriculture, Japheth Kiminza, has said the farmers are yet to find a reliable market, even for their high yields this season.

Kiminza disclosed that the county government can only buy a small portion of the farmers produce that is transported to the Kalamba Fruit Processing Plant in the area.

Speaking at Kwa Kathoka Agricultural Training Centre, while launching the Faidika Project, the chief office said, “Last year the county government managed to buy 6 percent of mangoes from farmers, meaning the remaining 94 percent was bought by middlemen at low prices of Sh8 per piece, while other fruits got rotten in the farms.

Faidika project is a platform, which aims at promoting the fruit value chain and ensuring market access to fruit farmers. The project is funded by USAID, Young Africans Leaders Initiative (YALI) and Chyulu Foundation to foster farm level fruit farming productivity and profitability among farmers in the county

Consequently, Kiminza assured farmers that the government will try and explore new markets, besides enhancing creative innovation and doing value addition to cushion farmers from incurring more loses.

At the same time, the chief officer appreciated Tosheka Textile Company that has been buying spoiled mangoes from farmers from the county to cushion them from incurring more losses.

Speaking at the same event, a mango specialist at the county George Kimani said local mangoes fail to meet the European Union market due to the bad chemicals farmers use, besides the effects of fruit fly and other diseases.

However, mango actors in the country have since launched a rigorous campaign towards establishment of Fruit Fly Free Zones (FFFZ) in Makueni County.

By John Mutinda and Immaculate Kinyumu


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