A banana farmers’ cooperative society in Murang’a is in process of establishing a value addition facility to increase their earnings.
Saba Saba Agribusiness Cooperative Society has for about 20 years been aspiring to do value addition on bananas and eventually produce various products which can earn them more money, other than just relying on selling of bananas for ripening.
Subsequently, the cooperative society which started in 2004 with only 50 members is currently in the process of securing a grant from National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP) to set up a Sh20 million facility, which will in turn help them in adding value to their banana products.
The chairman of the society Alex Kamau Muchoki has said plans to acquire the grant were at an advanced stage and soon they will embark on constructing the facility in a one-acre piece of land, owned by the cooperative society.
Currently the cooperative collects bananas from both members and non-members of the organisation and sells them to buyers from outside the county.
According to Muchoki, collective selling of the produce has helped farmers earn better prices as brokers have been locked out from accessing bananas directly from the farms.
He added that currently they buy bananas in terms of kilos saying the mode has saved farmers from being exploited by middlemen.
“Our members bring their bananas at our collection centre in Saba Saba and we record the number of kilos of the produce each farmer has delivered, then payments are done through their bank accounts,” noted Muchoki Tuesday when KNA visited the centre.
The chairman observed that with the envisaged value addition, they will be able to come up with various products which will fetch high prices, thus increasing earnings to farmers.
“We want to start manufacturing banana jam, wine, crisps and flour among other products, which will then be sold to supermarkets. The products will give us more income compared to mere selling of green bananas for ripening,” stated Muchoki.
He underscored the importance of banana farming, saying the crop produces throughout the year and can greatly support the government’s agenda on attaining food security in the country.
One of the local banana farmers, Julius Njeru lauded the move to set up a value addition facility saying for more than 10 years he has been selling bananas through the cooperative.
Njeru observed that despite earning better prices by channeling his produce through the society, value addition will enable them to get even better returns.
“Bananas farming is quite profitable and we are eagerly waiting for the value addition facility which will help us earn more,” he added.
Murang’a County NARIGP Project Coordinator John Waihenya said the group had already benefited with an inclusion grant of Sh300, 000 which enabled the cooperative to mobilize more members.
“By facilitation of the grant, the cooperative society which has more than 1, 200 members will incorporate others, and we are also ready to support the group with another grant to do value chain by putting up a facility for banana processing and ripening,” said Waihenya.
NARIGP has so far spent Sh138 million to help some 404 small groups in the region to boost their agricultural productivity and profitability.
“We are supporting a value chain in four products within Murang’a county, namely bananas, avocado, poultry and dairy. Currently many farmers in the county are venturing in the four products,” added Waihenya.
A local farmer, Susan Njeri Wanyoike lauded NARIGP for the much needed training it has continued offered them, thus ensuring increased production.
“I started farming bananas in 2003 and since I joined the cooperative, my earnings have increased. Thanks for the training we have been getting from experts and the collective selling of our produce,” added Wanyoike.
By Bernard Munyao