Mango farmers in Makueni County are milking cash from their mangoes after forming a common interest group and a mango cooperative society to market their produce. Through the group, farmers in the region have benefited from a series of trainings on disease and pest control, orchard management and post-harvest management.
Before 2011 Joseph Maweu, a mango farmer from Kanzokoea sub location in Kathonzweni, had 18 mango trees which were not doing well due to poor methods of farming. Like many other mango farmers in his area his mango fruits were of low quality. Furthermore, he and other the mango farmers in his area were not organized into producer and marketing groups. This led to exploitation by middle men.
The farmers sold the mangoes fresh (unprocessed) which resulted to very low incomes earned. Their problems were compounded by the fact that the harvesting season comes once in a year in the period between December and March for all the farmers. This resulted in mangoes flooding the market during this time, while farmers had nothing to sell during off-season.
The Kenya Agricultural Productivity Project (KAPP) helped Maweu and his fellow mango farmers in Makueni to form a group in July 2014 so as to enable them consolidate their income from the crop.
KAPP in collaboration with other agricultural stakeholders such as the Kenya National Farmers Federation (KENAFF) built the capacity of 2306 farmers by sponsoring them to tour mango processing firms in Thika and Kitui.
In this, farmers were encouraged to take mango farming as a viable agribusiness. Farmers participated in research work on integrated crop and pest management where they learnt skills on control of mango weevil and fruit fly.
“I have planted more mango trees on my idle land and improved the 18 trees that already existed in my farm. I also applied the technology I had acquired from the training on disease management” said Maweu.
“I have increased the number of crops in my farm to 170 mango trees. I have also established links with other value chain actors including exporters, pesticide dealers and mango processing firms”
Through the cooperative, Maweu has sold mangoes worth Sh121, 000 in a single season. He is among the 851 farmers who have bought shares worth Sh1.49m from the cooperative, which was registered in July 2014.
The farmer has also been able to pay school fees for his school going children with ease. His vision is to gradually increase his mango trees to 600 and reap more from the mango agribusiness.