KENYA – Kenya farmers in the North rift region are set to benefit from a US$2 million avocado processing plant after the government unveiled plans of setting up the factory as it seeks to diversify the regions agricultural value chain, reports Kenya Digest.

Jackson Mandago, Uasin Gishu county governor said that the government has contracted Herbex, a horticultural subsidiary of Stabex Petroleum Company for the construction of the plant.

Additionally, Mandago also unveiled plans of establishing a macadamia nut processing factory in the region under the same developer in its ambitions of exploring the potential underlying in the regions agricultural sector.

This comes at a time when the macadamia nut sector in the country has taken a turn around following consolidation of majority nut processors into the Nut Processors Association of Kenya (NutPAK).

With 90% of processors being members, NutPAK has developed a code of conduct for self-regulation and as it seeks to have players harmonize quality of nuts to safeguard Kenya’s international market.

The region is the country’s grain basket but however, farmers have been struggling to sell their produce to the National Cereals and Produce Board (NCPB) due to low prices.

Exploiting agricultural potential

The state grain buyer has faced a series of allegations including exploiting farmers by offering very low prices for their commodities.

This is despite the government’s intervention ordering the produce board to purchase produce from farmers at a better and competitive price.

NCPB was ordered to purchase maize from farmers at US$25 (Kshs 2500) price, an increase from US$23 (Ksh 2300) previously offered for a 90 kilogram bag.

So far, the government has released US$49.9 million to NCPB for purchase of 2 million bags of maize and has plans to offload 1.7 million bags of the producer from the food reserves.

However, Mandago, who is the chairman of the North Rift Economic Bloc, said farmers in the region have more than 18 million bags and appealed to the government to suspend the sale of the produce and roll out a sale plane.

“We should agree on how these stock will be sold. If millers get 1.7 million bags from the NCPB, yet the board will buy only two million bags from farmers, where will the other 16 million bags of maize be taken?” he urged.

Kenya has about 7,500 ha under avocado production yielding 81,000 tonnes annually but about 43% is lost due to poor handling.