Avocado farmers from Kisii County will now have a ready market for their produce after the British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriott and Kisii County Governor Simba Arati commissioned a 70-tonne avocado oil extraction factory in Kisii.
The UK government has provided expert advice and a seed fund worth Sh79 million.
The money was used in building the logistical framework to maximise fruit collection in the county through the purchase of nine trucks that to transport the fruits across the county.
The factory will enable farmers to access markets for their produce and reduce wastage previously experienced due to lack of ready markets, leading to post-harvest loss.
The extraction yield will range between 4-10 per cent, depending on the varieties of fruits supplied as raw materials.
The factory will process avocados sourced locally from farmers to produce avocado oil for the export market. The facility can process up to 70 tonnes of avocados daily.
Ms Marriott said the project is a partnership between the UK Government and AvoFresh Processors Limited and has been implemented by the UK’s Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED) in collaboration with Kisii County and municipality.
She added, “The commissioning of this facility is a demonstration that, by working in partnership, it is possible to come up with real opportunities and empower our people to cope with daily challenges.”
In addition to increasing farm yields, the project will also provide the necessary training and capacity building to farmers on better farming methods.
Mr Arati said that the project is the first agro-processing factory in the county, noting that agriculture is the mainstay for over 80 per cent of Kisii County residents.
“We convey our gratitude to the British government for selecting Kisii Municipality among the top 12 fast-growing municipalities in Kenya where it is implementing the Sustainable Urban Economic Development (SUED) programme,” said Mr Arati
The county chief instructed the Department of Agriculture to give the investor full support to ensure the sustainability of this project.
To increase production of the Hass variety, the governor said he will distribute Hass seedlings to farmers.
“We have already completed the procurement processes for our first phase of this programme and soon our farmers will be receiving the seedlings,” said the governor.
“My administration will come up with legislation geared towards creating an enabling environment not only for this particular investor but for all other investments in our various sectors of the economy,” noted Mr Arati.
The AvoFresh Project Manager Mr David Gitonga said that the factory has invested Sh355 million into the extraction facility and will in the first year create 95 direct factory jobs and 100 induced jobs. It will work with 1,000 farmers, which will increase to 3,000 in subsequent years.
“The UK government support both technical and financial has enabled us to reach many farmers across the county. We are happy to see the facility work and serve the farmers as envisioned,” said Mr Gitonga.
He noted that the Kisii County Government is providing legislative and political support to ensure that Avofresh has a conducive business environment to enable them to operate efficiently.
“The county and municipality have sensitised farmers to plant more avocado trees, thus guaranteeing the availability of raw materials. The county has supplied more than 120,000 Hass seedlings to farmers. The county is leasing a go-down to Avofresh on its land at Agricultural Training Centre where the extraction facility is located,” he added.