KENYA – The Kenyan government is set to open a banana processing factory, a project that aims at improving value addition to the commodity, reports Business Daily.

The factory will be located on a 10 acres piece of land within the Kisii Agricultural Training Center, at a cost of US$10.7 million grant provided by the European Union in 2017.

It was initially expected to be launched in September 2017 but would now be operational by July next year.

“The Kisii Banana Processing Factory is now a reality.

The multi-million project once operational in July next year, will alleviate problems afflicting banana farmers in the county,” said Kisii County Governor James Ongwae.

The factory will be constructed under the EU-supported Strengthening Kisii County Banana Value-Chain for Local Economic Development programme.

Once operational, the plant will provide a major boost for banana farmers in the county and the surrounding areas, boost agricultural production and create employment opportunities.

The plant, which comes at a time when banana production has increased in the region, will also enable farmers to bargain for better prices.

The county government is seeking to improve the quality of bananas produced, revive banana co-operative societies and boost value addition.

Currently, farmers face challenges marketing the produce with brokers capitalizing on the opportunity through purchasing at undermined prices only to sell handsomely in the country cities.

However, banana value addition has already proved that the prices can be greatly enhanced through value addition with ventures into products banana wine, crisps, flour, juice, jam and pastries such as bread, cakes and buns yielding fruits.

The crisps and pastries are distributed in local supermarkets in Kisii, Nairobi and Mombasa but are also available in other parts.

A study conducted by the University of Nairobi revealed that it is possible to produce an acceptable banana wine with huge potential for commercialization in East Africa.