Joseph Maweu, a mango farmer from Kanzokoea Sub-location in Kathonzweni, Makueni County has doubled his income per season from Sh12, 800 about eight years ago to over Sh121, 000 currently thanks to a farmers’ group he joined which has helped him access, training, inputs and market.
Before 2011, Maweu had 18 mango trees that were not doing well due to poor methods of farming. Like many other mango farmers in his area, his mango fruits were of low quality. Furthermore, he and other the mango farmers in the area were not organized into producer and marketing groups. This led to exploitation by middlemen.
He used to sell the mangoes fresh which resulted in very low incomes earned. His problems were compounded by the fact that the harvesting season comes once in a year in the period between December and March for all the farmers.
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This has been causing the flooding of mangoes in the market while farmers had nothing to sell during the off-season.
Finally, the Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPP) came to the rescue of Maweu and other farmers in Makueni by encouraging them to form a group in July 2014 so as to enable them to consolidate their income from the crop.
KAPP in collaboration with other agricultural stakeholders such as the Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) built the capacity of 2306 farmers by sponsoring them to tour mango processing firms in Thika and Kitui.
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In this, farmers were encouraged to take mango farming as a viable agribusiness. Farmers participated in research work on integrated crop and pest management where they learned skills on control of mango weevil and fruit fly.
“I have planted more mango trees on my idle land and improved the 18 trees that already existed on my farm. I also applied the technology I had acquired from the training on disease management” said Maweu.
“I have increased the number of crops on my farm to 170 mango trees. I have also established links with other value chain actors including exporters, pesticide dealers and mango processing firms”
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Through the cooperative, Maweu has sold mangoes worth Sh121, 000 in a single season. He is among the 851 farmers who have bought shares worth Sh1.49m from the cooperative, which was registered in July 2014.
The farmer has also been able to pay school fees for his school-going children with ease. His vision is to gradually increase his mango trees to 600 and reap more from the mango agribusiness.