KENYA – The European Union has extended US$1.09 million funding to Makueni County for a mango juice processor, Kalamba Fruit Processing plant, following an agreement between the Kenyan government and the EU.

According to Business Daily, this agreement involves funding economic projects across 15 counties under the Instrument for Devolution Advice and Support (IDEAS) programme.

IDEAS is a bilateral agreement between the EU and the Kenyan government to boost devolution through strengthening of devolved governance institutions and sustained local economic development.

The projects are meant to create employment, boost quality and nutritious food products and help farmers to easily access markets for their products and as result, EU would provide each county US$1.09 million in funding.

The plant was inaugurated in January 2018 alongside a dairy plant, Kikima Dairy Farmers Cooperative Society in a bid to improve capacity in the agribusiness sector at the local level.

The juice plant aims at reducing 40% of postharvest fruit wastes by processing and preserving mango puree while providing market for the same.

“The mango processing project will boost income for farmers, increase employment, and generate revenue for the county,” EU Ambassador to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, said when the deal was signed Wednesday.

The county governor, Kivutha Kibwana had earlier indicated that the government was in talks with standards and accreditation bodies to seek EU market for mango juice exports.

Kenya is seeking to boost the amount it reaps from the mango sector, which currently stands at US$29.89 million per year through postharvest waste control.

The Kenyan horticulture industry is fastest growing having producing approximately 540,000 tonnes of mango fruits each year according to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization.

In 2017, fresh produce earnings jumped 11% to a record US$1.14 billion compared to the previous year according to the Fresh Produce Exporters Association of Kenya report released in April this year.