The Kerio Valley Development Authority (KVDA) plans to plant 8.5 million mango seedlings to enhance food security and nutrition in the next five years.
This is KVDA’s grand plan to save the environment besides improving the economy of the region.
The programme will help generate a good income for communities in the region, especially now that the authority has established a mango factory in Tot, Elgeyo Marakwet County, to process mango juice.
The factory has the capacity to process 100,000 litres of juice annually but this capacity is limited by the quality of mangoes grown by farmers.
Counties that will benefit from the programme are Elgeyo Marakwet, Turkana, West Pokot, Baringo, Samburu and parts of Nakuru.
KVDA Managing Director Sammy Naporos noted that the programme will help increase mango production, promote value addition and help in conservation through the greening programme.
Donate fruit-tree seedlings
He said that the authority, under the mango value chain and livelihood improvement programme, has rolled out a schedule to donate assorted fruit-tree seedlings to farmers living in 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 (arid and semi-arid lands) areas,” he said last week when he distributed 3,000 free mango seedlings in Bartembwa, Baringo County.
“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).”
Chiefs to monitor planting
He said chiefs in the area will have to monitor the planting of the seedlings.
The MD observed that they will need to build the capacity of mango farmers, adding that the programme aims to increase household incomes.
“It will contribute to the manufacturing pillar of the Big Four agenda.”
The programme, he said, will help mitigate the effects of climate change, adding that a mango-growing project is being introduced in the region and that the authority will provide all the logistical technicalities and educate farmers on growing the crop.
“We shall train local farmers on technology transfer in mango grafting.”
He said the Kerio Valley region suffers from cattle rustling and hunger and hence the programme is expected to help pastoralists to settle down and engage in agricultural activities.
“The area has good climatic conditions and farmers have embraced agriculture,” he said.
He pointed out that they anticipate that each household in the region will have to plant at least 10 mango trees.
One tree can produce 400 mangoes, each sold at Sh10 each, giving the farmer Sh40,000, he said.
Most of the counties are arid and semi-arid, with favourable climatic conditions for mango production, he added. Elgeyo Marakwet is the leading producer of mangoes in 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 the Cherangany watershed,” he said.
The authority intends to produce 1.5 million certified grafted mango seedlings in KVDA nurseries in the next five years.
A mango orchard will be set up at Weiwei in West Pokot for the production of certified mango scions for grafting, he said, and research will be carried out in partnerships with the relevant stakeholders such as the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation.
He added that they have also supported promotion of mango production in counties such as Lakipia, Kericho, Bomet, Bungoma, Narok and in the KVDA’s area of jurisdiction.
“Currently, KVDA has over 400,000 mango seedlings in its nurseries.”
Bartebwa MCA Reuben Chepsongol said 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.
There is a ready market for the product, he added.
KVDA Director Joseph Rotimoi said the programme will promote environmental conservation.
“The mango tree takes only two and half years to mature. Farmers will get fees, food, health and income,” he said.
KVDA Director Grace Were said the venture will uplift farmers, asking them not to rely only on maize.
She added that locals do not earn much from growing maize, and therefore the introduction of mango will bring more value to farmers.
“We want to diversify farming in the area. Residents will not rely on bursaries and relief food,” she noted.
Joseph Pelingetich, a farmer who plants cotton and has now turned to mangoes, said that they have embraced planting fruits.
“We hope we shall benefit from mangoes,” he said.