Mango farmers in Tana River County have been asked to make the Integrated Fruit-Processing Plant (IFPP) in Boji, viable by ensuring a steady supply of raw mangoes for continuous production of pulp.
Coast Regional Commissioner John Elungata exuded confidence that the installed equipment has the capacity to crush 8 tonnes of mangoes in a day to produce pulp for juice making.
The Regional Commissioner appealed to the farmers to jealously support government investments and to avoid unnecessary squabbles that may bring the plant to its knees. “We are appealing to the farmers to do their part, support the factory. The more you supply the more you earn,” Elungata said.
The plant established by the Coast Development Authority (CDA) has a capacity to crush over 1,200 tons of mangoes per year. The main overarching goal for CDA in setting up the plant is to improve the living standards of coastal small-holder farmers and create employment for the youth.
Tana River is one of the major mango producing counties in Kenya. The plant has the potential to process other fruits such as pineapples, watermelons and tomatoes for both local and international markets.
“The plant is ready for use. This is a multi-purpose factory therefore besides the mangoes we have ambitions of starting a multiline that can crush other fruits,” Dr. Mohamed Keinan, Managing Director, Coast Development Authority said.
Keinan added that the plant will also create employment in the community and will provide market outlets for local farmers through direct purchasing of raw mangoes from local farmers thus reducing post-harvest losses.
Governor Dhadho Godhana said they have put in place strategies to increase mango production in Tana River County through grafting and other scientific methods and erected 11 mango collection centers.
“Our development plan is in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four agenda. We will build a mini hospital in the Boji area as part of consolidation of services,’’ Governor Godhana said.
Godhana further said they have trained bee farmers across the county on bee keeping and have supplied them with beehives to enhance honey production. The Integrated Fruit-Processing plant has a honey-processing component which can refine and package semi-refined honey for local consumption.
“In addition, the plant can undertake water-bottling for human consumption. This will guarantee constant production throughout the year,’’ said Griffin Muthomi, Director, Business Development, Partnership and collaboration at CDA.
Galole Constituency MP Said Hiribae praised the project since farmers will not transport their mangoes to other counties, he appealed to the government to expand the plant for farmers to maximize their profits.
The pulp from the plant is christened Tana Gold and is patented. CDA sells the pulp to locals and major juice producing companies.
By Sadik Hassan