Kirinyaga County Government has opened the first tomato market in the county, bringing the long-awaited relief to farmers and traders.
Makutano Tomato Market becomes the largest tomato collection centre for county farmers who sell their produce to retail and export traders.
During the official opening, Governor Ann Waiguru said that the market will accommodate about 500 tomato traders who have been selling their produce by the roadside but have since been displaced by the ongoing expansion of the Kenol-Sagana-Marua dual carriage.
“The market will provide a conducive environment for our traders and shield them from harsh weather conditions such as sunshine and rain. Their produce will also be protected from getting spoiled by mud during the rainy seasons, hence reducing post-harvest losses,” said the governor.
The market has modern social amenities such as toilets, car parks, proper water drainage systems as well as an adequate lighting system that will lead to extension of operation hours.
The non-organic and organic waste will be placed in separate bins to allow organic waste from the market to be collected by pig farmers to feed their animals.
“We have also placed waste bins marked Organic and Non-organic with the aim of separating waste from the market. The bins that are marked Organic will be used for dumping the organic waste which will then be collected by our pig farmers to feed their animals,” Waiguru added.
The county, through Wezesha Programme, has supported over 60 farmers’ groups to upscale tomato production, through construction of green houses for seedling propagation and growing of high yielding tomatoes.
To address post-harvest losses and add value to the tomatoes, Waiguru said that the county government is in the process of constructing a tomato factory in Kangai, Mwea constituency, noting that value addition will earn farmers more money and create employment opportunities for Kirinyaga people.
The factory will be making tomato products like tomato sauce, tomato juice, paste, pulp, concentrate and diced tomatoes. The factory will see doubling of tomato farmers as a result of the ready market for the produce.
Waiguru noted that the county government will continue supporting farmers to upscale tomato farming as well as providing a favourable marketing environment.
By Mutai Kipngetich