Girls turn mangoes into sweet juice and wine
Not far from the main road at the heart of Siaya Town, two young women are cashing in on the glut, buying the mangoes cheaply and making juice and wine out of them in a venture that shows how small steps in value addition can alleviate farmers’ problems.
“During our industrial attachment in 2016 at Siaya Agricultural Training Centre, we saw the problems mango farmers went through when there was glut. We, therefore, decided to make juice using the plenty of local mangoes,” recounts Achieng, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Enterprise Development from Pwani University.
“We had already been trained on the value addition bit at the agricultural centre. The mangoes are juicy, therefore, we realised we did not have to process with sugar or any additives. The machines at the centre were available at our disposal,” she recalls.
“I joined the students when they approached the county government for financial support. I saw it was a brilliant idea, and not just a venture to make pocket money but something that can grow into a big industry. Four of the students moved on,” says Owinga, a former Miss Tourism Siaya County.
“We have two boda boda riders who ferry the mangoes for us to the processing hub at the agricultural training centre. We have employed three women who sort the fruits and clean them in readiness for processing,” explains Owinga, 27.
Once ready, the product is pasteurised for up to 80 degrees Celcius for 15 minutes before it is cooled and stored in the refrigerator. Out of the 250kg of mangoes, they get 100 litres of pulp.
“We pasteurise the juice to kill any pathogens. The beauty with the local mangoes is that they maintain the pale yellow colour for up to eight months even after refrigeration. Other mango varieties become darker in a few months,” explains Owinga.
“We add brewer’s yeast to the wine must, which we store in jerricans at room temperature. We then leave it there for three months before we decant. The whole process takes about eight months before the wine finally matures,” says Achieng, 25.
“We want the youth to engage in such businesses so that they can alleviate the suffering of mango farmers, a majority who are old and would not be keen to add value to the fruit,” says Juma.