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    By George Munene

    The Market Access Upgrade Program (MARKUP) is setting up a project for Kenya’s 12 main mango producing counties that will help them in accessing the more commercially lucrative international market for their fruit.

    This will be done by supporting farmers in these counties by training them on how to produce quality, pest and disease-free mangoes that will easily find a market internationally. 

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    Related News: Kitui flakes exporter gives mango farmers ready market

    The program follows the resumption of direct export of Kenyan mangoes to Europe in September this year after a seven-year ban instituted by the EU due to Kenyan mangoes having a high fruit fly load.

    MARKUP, a partnership program between the European Union and East African Community also aims to help farmers find markets, especially in Europe for peas, snow peas, passion fruits, nuts, chilies, herbs and spices. Increasing the value of both extra and intra-regional agricultural exports will serve to improve farmer livelihoods and by extension the economy of member countries.

    “Communities will increase revenues that the country gets when we import our products outside of the country and generally this will create jobs from the farmer group level, exporter and at the national level,” Maina Karuiru, MARKUP’s National Project Coordinator said at the project launch at Makueni.

    For his part, the County’s governor Kivutha Kibwana congratulated the program as it will help farmers at the grassroots level get better returns from their mango farms.

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    By George Munene

    Availability and cost: these are the main drivers that have seen Kenyan animal feed traders opt to source the concentrates needed by farmers to increase output in animal production from neighboring Uganda and Tanzania.

    “I can get 50 kilograms of maize bran from Uganda at a wholesale price of Sh900 which I’ll then sell for Sh1000 to farmers. Buying the bag from Kenyan millers costs Sh1100 which will mean having to sell it for Sh1200 to make a profit. A Sh100 price difference is a lot for a small-scale farmer looking to cut down on their production costs, naturally most opt for the cheaper alternative,” explains Wellingtone Serem a feed wholesaler at Eldoret.

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    Similarly, he points out wheat bran bought from a local milling company sets him back Sh842 and is sold to farmers for Sh950, while a similar 50-kilogram bag costs Sh760 imported from Uganda, this he can sell for a slightly cheaper Sh850.

    The unavailability of local raw material has also driven Kenyan traders to source from her two neighbors. “If I relied solely on Kenyan milling factories to stock my shelves with animal feeds I would have already shut down my shop. Wheat bran is almost never available from wheat milling factories in the country, with the little that is offered coming nowhere near to satisfy existing demand,” Serem says.

    The case is similar for cotton seed cake with only one company based in Kitui producing the by-product of ginned cotton. This constitutes no more than a drop in the ocean of what the market needs. The same applies to sunflower seedcake which he gets from suppliers in Tanzania and Uganda where its supply is plentiful.  

    These feed constituents can be fed to cows singularly but are often assembled by farmers to make a dairy meal facsimile. With the ever-rising price of dairy meal in the country, farmers are now opting against buying from manufacturers, choosing instead to make their own which reduces their cost of production.

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    However with a tonne of these raw materials costing over Sh800,000 to bring across the country’s borders, very few farmers are able to source for feeds individually. Wellingtone also notes that it takes time to establish trustworthy sources; “I have been to homes of the people I work with in both Uganda and Tanzania, this is vital as the whole business works off trust: I might send one million shillings and be put on a queue and have to wait for when the feeds become available. Once available I have a broker who sources trailers looking for return goods and loads them before they get back into the country.” he explains.

    Quality checks are conducted by Kephis at the country’s border to ensure any feeds entering the country meet the set efficacy standards.

    Wellingtone Serem: 0723092409

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    Mango farm

    By George Munene

    According to Kenya’s Horticultural Crops Directorate measures taken to reduce fruit flies in the country’s mangoes could finally yield a dividend with the resumption of direct mango exports to Europe in September this year after seven years.

    Exported mangoes fetch farmers up to six times more, Sh30, to Sh 5 for mangoes sold or processed locally. The country’s mango exports have been restricted to the Middle East, greatly diminishing the earning potential of Kenya’s mango farmers. 

    Related News: Kitui flakes exporter gives mango farmers ready market

    Related News: Banana farmer avoids mango season losses through desuckering

    Kenya imposed a self-ban barring the export of mangoes to European Union nations in 2014 due to a high fruit fly load. This was done with the long-term interests of mango farmers in mind, meant to avoid the country being sanctioned by the EU.

    Measured put in place to combat fruit flies include the creation of pest-free zones in mango growing areas. Farmers hoping to be part of the export chain will also have their fields assessed to determine their produce is suitably free of pests.

    Mangoes that are meant for the export market also need to be harvested before they are fully ripe so that they can be shipped and arrive to oversee markets perfect for consumption.

    Related News: Farmers cut mango losses by a third with home-made brick coolers

    Despite the ban, the illegal exportation of some of Kenya’s mangoes has gone on through third-party countries in the Middle-East used as a conduit to getting the country’s mangoes into Europe. The resumption of direct exports will serve to slow this down, maintaining the originality of the country’s produce, which Wilfred Yako--the assistant director of regulation and compliance at Directorate of Horticulture--says sits up there with the best in the world and serves to credit the exporting nations undeservedly.

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