Tomato growers in Kobura Ward, Nyando Sub-county expect to reap big after the completion of a tomato processing plant in the area, to promote agro-industry and improve livelihoods.
The construction of the Kochieng’ Tomato Processing Plant in Nyamware village that was undertaken by the Kisumu County Government has been completed and fully equipped and is now awaiting commissioning by Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o in the coming weeks.
Chief Officer for Industrialization and Energy, Joseph Oganga, confirmed to Kenya News Agency that the Department spent Ksh 20 million on the flagship project in the 2021/22 Financial Year.
Oganga said Governor Nyong’o’s manifesto on promoting industrialization in Lakeside County which is in line with the National Government’s ‘Big 4’ Agenda on food security and manufacturing, gave impetus to the project which is envisioned as Kisumu’s next economic frontier.
“The County is committed to promoting local value addition, establishing cottage industries, and promoting diversification of production of goods and services with an aim of establishing business hubs in the villages out of the city of Kisumu,” Oganga said.
Oganga said the agro-industry project is the first of its kind to be funded by the County government to promote sustainable agricultural-based development and industrialization in rural areas.
The Chief Officer for Agriculture, Irrigation, Livestock and Fisheries, Dr Paul Omanga, said tomato production in the rice schemes during the off-peak season is of a significant rate to sustain the factory production.
Tomato is among the high-value crops planted post rice harvest in the vast Ahero, West Kano, and South West Kano irrigation schemes with 200Ha of land and over 11,000 farmers. Other horticultural crops planted in the region include African vegetables, hot pepper and watermelon.
However, Dr Omanga stated that at the onset the plant would focus on tomatoes and eventually expand to process more agricultural value-added products.
“The same equipment can be used to process mangoes, avocadoes, pineapples and other fruits which will be transported from far-off areas to the site for processing,” stated Dr Omanga.
The achievement marks a significant stride for small-scale tomato farmers, by reducing post-harvest losses, increasing profit margins and creating job opportunities.
“Upon its operationalization, the facility will bolster farmers by ensuring they observe best farming practices, provision of quality seeds and tools, capacity building, access to financing and sourcing of markets for the processed products,” said Dr Omanga.
The project will be managed by the Kochieng’ Multipurpose Cooperative Society to revolutionize tomato processing in the region.
The plant has a modern ablution block with a bio digester and a 15-meter high mast solar powered floodlight and drilled borehole to supply water to the community for domestic use.
Kochieng’ tomato processing plant is intended to produce tomato juice, tomato paste and other by products that will be branded and supplied to local supermarkets.
In addition, the Department of Industrialization and Energy, plans to commercialize the water project by procuring, and installing a water purifying and bottling plant to produce branded mineral water for sale.
“This can be managed by a youth cooperative society to provide employment and boost household income thus transforming the livelihoods of the locals,” disclosed Mr. Oganga.