Murang’a farmers push for mango processing plant
By MWANGI MUIRURI
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Mango growers in Murang’a claim that they have lost billions of shillings in Mwangi wa Iria’s six-year tenure. They accuse the county of neglecting them by not establishing a value-addition plant to enable them to reduce post-harvest wastage and maximise returns.James Musau, farmers’ leader, said they presented a memorandum to Mr wa Iria immediately after he was sworn in for the first term detailing how a value-addition plant would have created real benefits for both farmers and county economy.“We had discussed with him that a Sh2 billion value-addition plant was all we needed to have the mango sector start raking in Sh15 billion annually for the farmers and the county be getting not less than Sh1.5 billion as direct tax from us.“We would have guaranteed the county at least 3,000 jobs, among other benefits,” he saidMr Musau said mango farmers have been suffering in the hands of middlemen who take advantage of the perishability of the produce in an environment where there are no cold room storage facilities to extend shelf life.“January through March in Murang’a is a mango season in all of the lower zones. Wa Iria had indeed encouraged us that he was aware of how the sector could change lives in the county.“He is the one who made us aware that two mangos are required to make a litre of high-quality juice,” he said.
Mr Musau said a 100-kilo sack of traditional variety retails at Sh200, while the grafted varieties retail at Sh2 per piece.“The 100-kilo sack contains not less than 600 mangoes. With value-addition, this sack would have fetched us not less than Sh3,000.“It is six years down the line and we are still counting our losses,” he said.However, wa Iria said the county is finalising a Sh800 million grant from development partners to establish five value-addition plants to benefit legumes, cereals and horticulture producers.