The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) is set to plant 8.5 million mango seedlings to enhance food security and nutrition in the next five years in the semi-arid Kerio Valley Region.
The program will help generate good income to the communities especially now that the Authority has established a mango factory at Tot area in Elgeyo Marakwet County to process juice through value addition.
The Tot mango factory has the capacity to process 100,000 litres of mango juice annually but this capacity is currently limited by the quality of mangoes grown by the farmers.
Counties that will benefit from the program are Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu and parts of Nakuru.
Speaking on Wednesday while distributing free 3000 mango seedlings at Bartembwa area in Baringo County, KVDA managing Director Sammy Naporos noted that the program will help increase mango production, promote value addition and promote conservation through the greening program.
He said that the Authority, under the mango value chain and livelihood improvement program, has rolled out a schedule to donate assorted fruit/tree seedlings to farmers living within the Kerio Valley region.
“This is in line with the Authority’s target of increasing mango production in the region so as to foster sustainable household livelihoods, promote value addition and improve tree cover in the ASAL areas. Towards this end, the Authority targets to donate and distribute 15,000 mango seedlings to farmers and institutions this Financial Year (2020/2021) as follows: Elgeyo-Marakwet county – 3,000, West Pokot county -3,000, Turkana county – 5,000, Baringo county – 3,000,”he said.
He said that chiefs in the area will have to monitor the planting of the seedlings.
The MD observed that they will have to build the capacity of the mango farmers adding that the program aims at increasing household income.
He said that the program will help mitigate effects of climate adding that mango growing project is being introduced in the region and that the Authority will provide all the logistical technicalities and educate farmers on the growing of the crop.
“We shall train local farmers on technology transfer in mango grafting, Establishment of a mango processing factory,” said Naporos.
He said that the Kerio Valley region is affected by cattle rustling activities and hunger hence the program is to help pastoralists to settle down and engage in agricultural activities.
“The area has good climatic conditions and farmers have embraced agriculture,” he said.
Naporos pointed out that they anticipate that farmers in the region will have to plant at least ten mango trees in each household.
“One mango tree can produce Ksh.40,000. One mango tree can produce 400 mangoes and which is sold at ten bob each,”said Naporos.
He said that most of the counties are Arid and Semi-arid areas which exhibit favorable climatic conditions for mango production and Elgeyo Marakwet is the leading county in mango production within the region.
“Mango production has been promoted as a national cash crop under Vision 2030 with KVDA being the lead government agency. It is one of the Authority’s flagship projects that will not only increase mango production but will also increase tree cover and contribute to environmental conservation particularly conservation of Cherangany watershed,” said Naporos.
He said that the authority intends to produce 1.5 million certified grafted mango seedlings within KVDA nurseries in the last 5yrs.
“Establishment of a mango orchard at Weiwei in West Pokot for the production of certified mango scions for grafting, Promotion of research in partnerships with the relevant stakeholders such as KALRO,”he said
He added that they have also supported promotion of mango production in countries such as Lakipia, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Narok and within the KVDA area of jurisdiction.
“Currently, KVDA has over 400,000 mango seedlings in its nurseries,”said Naporos.
Bartebwa member of County Assembly Reuben Chepsongol said that they will look after the mango seedlings so that residents can benefit from the venture.
“We thank KVDA for empowering farmers. Agriculture is the backbone of this country, “he said.
He said that there is a ready market for the product.
“We shall get income from mangoes, “he said.
KVDA Director Dr Joseph Rotimoi said that the program will promote conservation.
“The mango tree takes only two and half years to mature. Farmers will get fees, food, health and income,” he said.