Sweetunda, an agro-processing company is sourcing for mangoes from all-comers with a vision to create income for farmers and reduce food loss.
The company which was started three years ago buys the fruit from farmer groups and those interested in selling their produce have to aggregate their produce.
“Our aim is to ensure farmers have access to market for their produce and in this we buy their fruits and add value to them to create sweetunda- Kenyan dried mango and other fruits such as raspberries created from food that was previously wasted,” said Jonathan Bamber, the CEO of the company.
Research by Sweetunda reveal that 70 per cent of mangoes in Kenya for instance are lost due post-harvest handling, disease, transport issues and lack of access to markets. Sweetunda is supporting farmers by training them on GlobalGAP certification to ensure that a farmer has engaged in good agricultural practices that guarantees the crops have been grown in safe, healthy and responsible way.
“We asked small-scale farmers why their mangoes simply rot in the fields instead of being sold for cash, so they can send their children to school and provide for their families and the farmers explained to us how the links needed between the farm and the markets simply don’t exist. We said, “We think we can help you with that,” said Bamber.
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Ithanga Mango Growers and Marketing Group in Gatanga, Muranga County is one of the beneficiaries that has benefited from ready mango market offered by Sweetunda.
“We have managed to increase prices for our mangoes from between Sh8 to Sh10 per kilo before we knew Bamber three years ago to the current Sh17 per kilo,” said John Kimuyu, the Chairman of Ithanga Mango growers and Marketing Group.
The group which was started in registered in October 2016 initially had 21 members but has since doubled its numbers to 43 members.
“We use to sell mangoes to brokers and they bought a single mango at between three shillings to five shillings which was way too low compared to the current prices,” said Kimuyu.
The group has also received trainings on pest and disease management to improve their income.
Nancy Wanjiku, a mango farmer from Murang’a for example initially had her mangoes attacked by fruit flies and as such she could not sell the fruits in the market due to poor quality.
“I have been farming mangoes for about five years, before I did not know the value of mangoes and didn’t take much care. In 2017 my fruits were attacked by fruit flies and I was unable to harvest. But after that I met someone who introduced me Burton and Bamber Company who together with other farmers trained us on mango management for effective production,” said Wanjiku.
After the training, Wanjiku now sells now produces an average of one tonne of mangoes which she sells to the company enabling her to provide comfortably for her family besides paying school fees for her children.
Jonathan can be reached on +254 725 706 587.