Sh430m tomato factory for Kajiado farmers

Farmers harvesting tomatoes at Marura area of Isineti Kajiado South Sub-county. File Photo

By Our reporter

Tomato farmers in Loitokok will minimize their loses when the government opens a Sh 430million tomato factory in the area.

The factory that has been in the pipeline for many years, is situated at Kimana and will be funded under the Ewaso Ng’iro South Development Authority(ENSDA).

Farmers in the area say they lose 40 percent of their total harvest annually amounting to Sh300million in every.

They are exploited by middlemen who purchase the crop cheaply and transport it to Nairobi, Mombasa and other markets.

ENSDA Managing Director Mr Ngala Oloitiptip says farmers in the area produced tomatoes worth Sh1.3billion in the 2019-2020 financial year, becoming the second highest producers after Kirinyaga County.

“Tomato farmers in this region have been recording colossal losses annually.Upon the completion of the tomato factory ENSDA will be buying tomatoes directly from the farmers at competitive prices,” said Oloitiptip.

He added that the factory will process the Tomato as a value addition measure to reap more benefit in the regional market.

The  Ewaso Nyiro South Development Authority (ENSDA) being  one of the regional developments Authorities under the Ministry of Regional Development will be instrumental in advising farmers on quality of seeds and farm inputs to ensure high quality produces.

Locals will also benefits from job opportunities in the new factory.

“Towards the county 2030 vision, the government is encouraging tomato farmers to tap more into the regional market through processing their farm produce. We want to make the tomato agri business lucrative” he added.

The factory under construction is expected to be complete and up running by the end of 2022.

Currently, Tomato farmers in the Rombo agricultural belt are decrying the high cost of fertilizer and increased fake fertilizer that has seen them incur massive losses making tomato farming non profitable.

Middlemen are still adamant on using large or exaggerated crates that are three times the size of normal crates at  Sh6,000.

The county government introduced tomato packaging regulations to protect farmers but they remain ineffective.

Tomato large-scale farmer Nancy Nasieku in Kimana, says the rains came early and destroyed her flowering crops.

The dejected farmer said she had hoped to reap more than Sh500,000 by January 2021 but ended up with  nothing despite the high cost of farm inputs.

Unscrupulous middlemen are also selling them ineffective fertilizer decreasing tomato yields.

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