Boon to Coast farmers as mango juice factory roars to life
By Monica Kagia
Tana River-based mango pulp manufacturer, Galole Fruit Processing Factory, has roared to life, renewing hopes for mango farmers who have been reeling from exploitation from middlemen.
The factory has also diversified its operations by incorporating a Sh5.4 million bottled water processing plant, Tana Springs, with a capacity to produce 4,500 bottles per hour.
Speaking at the factory on Sunday, Coast Development Authority Managing (CDA) Director Mohammed Keinan said the plant will be crushing one tonne of mangoes per hour, producing 500kg of pulp per every tonne.
"The capacity is bigger than the previous one we had that collapsed. It is faster and stronger in that it will be running 24/7 with our workers working on shifts," he said.
Dr Keinan said the plant will serve 30, 000 mango farmers from Tana River, Lamu and Kilifi counties.
Plant engineer Brett Jhonson said the machine is the second of its kind in the country, with the first one found at Kerio Valley Development Authority, used for honey processing.
"This is an absolute boost to the plant and areas economy, faster producing and not costly to maintain, we anticipate a smooth running of activities down here," he said.
He said that 100 people will be hired as large scale production kicks off this season, with another 1,500 set to be absorbed indirectly.
The first production line will produce 12,000 metric tonnes of pulp per year as the machines that had stalled for the last four years became operational on Sunday.
“We have made a leap from the initial 2,880 tonnes, increasing our output to 40,000 metrics tonnes per year, putting us ahead of producers in the region,” said Dr Keinan.
But Dr Keinan allayed fears that mangoes produced in the targeted counties may not be enough to support large-scale production.
To support the plant's revival, CDA announced plans to set up with more orchards in the region.
The parastatal has acquired 300 acres in the county and trained farmers put in charge of farm operations.
processing plant was establishment in 2012, producing mango juice for the
regional market and bottled water running a period one year.
Due to mismanagement and corruption, the factory collapsed leaving the mango farmers vulnerable to the middlemen who bought their mangoes at Sh2 per fruit compared to CDA'S Sh20 per/kg.
Majority of the farmers resorted to street mango vending and homemade juice production as value addition methods to their mango harvests, in a bid to fetch better prices.
More than 20,000 mango farmers have been undergoing training on quality mango production, marketing and table banking in efforts to nurture them into quality entrepreneurs, courtesy of CDA.