A farmer youth group in Kisii has emerged a market leader and created thousands of jobs thanks to its banana processing unit that is now creating over 19 value added products from tissue culture bananas, weathering the market glut and increasing household incomes.
The journey though a boggy one has resulted into increased cultivation of the high yielding tissue culture bananas, at an area known for its ideal banana growing conditions.
The group known as Nyangorora Banana Processing Group has also given a lifeline to street children, unemployed youth and working class keen on venturing in self or group employment. For in the modest processing factory hopes have been restored and incomes grown. “I quit my job as an accountant in one of the microfi finance institutions to concentrate on this project which I have realized has huge potential,”said Michael Mokaya a member of the group.
But one man has taken the project to its current position. Jared Omuso was one of the many unemployed youth in the area. But his frustrations would see him mobilize 22 other unemployed youths in the area to invest in what could do well in the area; bananas. Armed with nothing but a will to succeed they set out for a journey unaware where it take them.
“With contribution from group members, we raised enough money to buy 7000 tissue culture banana suckers from Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT),” he said. But a market glut which saw prices fall to dismal low, became the idea that sparked what has today become the envy of many in the county and beyond. Local and international donors impressed by the impact a modest venture is creating among the locals, have bought the group state of the art processing machines.
Today, Nyangorora Banana Processors has 19 products all drawn from bananas. They include banana wine, beer, banana crisps, and banana floor. As a pointer to the potential of the business, Nyangorora is on course to sign a contract with food giant Proctor & Allan where they will be supplying banana floor to the company.
Their products are highly sought after by retail stores from as far as Nairobi and Mombasa. This growing demand has seen them increase acreage under tissue bananas while buying more from the farmers. Since the venture started over 124 hectares of banana plantings
using tissue culture have been planted in the county and has positively changed the lives of some 10,000 farmers, mostly women, whose food supply and income has grown significantly since the processing plant was established. (64 percent women) whose food supply
and cash incomes will significantly increase as harvesting begins.
Written by Alvinah Kamwaga for African Laughter
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