Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu has commissioned a Ksh.20 million fruit processing plant to mitigate post-harvest losses, leverage on value addition and increase farmers’ profitability.
The food processing machinery has a production capacity of five tonnes per hour and 800 tonnes in a month.
The Governor said the post-harvest quality and shelf life of the fruit in part will depend on some post-harvest handling practices and treatments carried out after harvest.
“Food processing offers opportunities for villagers to diversify their sources of income. When farmers in an area grow similar crops, processing helps to avoid the effects of lowered prices and incomes when seasonal gluts occur at harvest time,” said the Governor.
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The factory will also enable farmers who grow low-value staple crops to add value and increase household incomes.
“Quality final products like tomato sauces, ketchup, and tomato paste and fruit juices will now be processed and packaged right here in Kitui by our very well trained youth,” she said.
Kitui Foods plant will create job opportunities and create a ready market for the farmers’ produce.
The governor said that fruit prices will be dictated by the supply and demand chain, adding that farmers will get value of their produce at competitive market prices.
Farmers will be organised to form cooperative societies so that they can have a strong bargaining power and lock out middlemen bent to swindle their hard earned sweat.