12,000 mango farmers are set to benefit from supplying the produce to Makueni juice factory in a bid that is geared towards providing market and reducing post-harvest losses by 40 per cent.
The factory which started operations last year is buying mangoes at Sh15 each and currently produces mango pulp.
This comes at a time when Kenyan farmers lost Sh150bn worth of produce in the 2016/17 season in the post-harvest process attributed to inadequate markets.
The plant has received Sh110m boost from the European Union to enable it produce more mango products through value addition. The county is the first out of 15 counties to receive the funds under the Instrument for Devolution Advice and Support (IDEAS) programme.
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In 2017 for instance Joseph Maweu, a mango farmer in the region, increased his income from Sh56,000 in 2016 to Sh121,000 after delivering his produce to the factory.
Initially, the farmer sold his mangoes at an open market in Makueni at between five and 10 shillings but with the factory buying each mango at Sh15 he has been able to increase his earnings two and half times.
“With ready market, I have increased the population of my mango trees from 18 trees to 170,” said Maweu.
Kenya produces approximately 540,000 tonnes of mango fruits each year according to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.
The horticulture industry in the country is fastest growing sub-sector in the agriculture production.
In 2017, fresh produce earnings jumped 11 per cent to a record Sh115.25bn compared to the previous year according to the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya report released in April this year.
Of these, cut flowers accounted for 70 per cent of the total income with the rest coming from fruits and vegetables.