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Mango farmers demand fruit processing plant

11 February 2014, 11:13 Bob Ndwiga

Embu - More than 400 small scale mango farmers in Itabua area, Embu County, have asked the county and national governments to consider establishing a fruit processing factory in the area to tame the heavy losses they are incurring.

The farmers are also seeking expertise from agricultural extension officers to be able to grow the fruits professionally and hence earn better profits.

The farmers said that they were losing huge amounts of their yields due to limited outlets and over-dependence on the retail market which is mainly controlled by middlemen.

Speaking at various farms, the farmers who control at least 70 plants of the various exotic species of mangoes, said that losses at farm level were on the increase due to limited sales.

Mary Wamuyu, a farmer, said that unless the government hastened plans to attract industrialists who could buy the fresh mangoes, preserve them and later use them to make juices, heavy losses would continued to be recorded.

The farmer said that apart from lack of adequate outlets, irrigation water for the fruits also remained scarce and expensive.

The Tommy and Apple species of mangoes, Wamuyu said were popular but due to inadequate outlets, she loses a whole box of fruits everyday at the farm level.

She said that presently, a crate of mangoes retails at a price of KES 350 meaning that three mangoes go for a mere KES 10 yet each fruit could fetch KES 10 if markets were available.

The farmer said that a single mango tree could produce up to 500 pieces of mangoes per season which last about two months.

Mango farming, she said, was expensive because the trees needed frequent pruning as well as spraying.

The farmer said that presently she produces at least two crates of mango per day which earns her at least KES 1 400.

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