Malindi Farmers’ Cooperative Society is staring at a potential Kshs. 14 million in losses over lack of market for its mango pulp.
Officials from the cooperative say since March 2019, 274,000 litres of mango pulp stored at Malindi Fresh Juice Processors Factory have remained unsold due to lack of buyers.
Farmers have now been forced to incur losses by selling their mango fruits at throwaway prices as the factory is no longer capable of processing additional fruits.
The facility which was established 13 years ago with the support of the Micro-Enterprise Support Programme Trust through a Kshs. 164 million loan from the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), is yet to break even, forcing the financiers to write off the debt.
“In facilitating this noble idea, MESPT initiated the project under a financing agreement totalling Kshs. 164 million between 2011 and 2020. We successfully supported the setting up of the factory and have been injecting working capital for its operations,” said Noah Meely, MESPT director.
According to society’s chairman Emmanuel Baha, the factory’s troubles begun when farmers started using chemicals to eradicate the destructive fruit fly pest which he claims arrived through fresh mango imports from India.
“To beat the fly so we could maintain our markets, we decided to use chemicals to deal with the pest, but our buyers refused to buy our mangoes saying they preferred organically produced mangoes,” said Baha.
Due to lack of fresh mango buyers, the society embarked on processing the fruits in order to add value and find market leading to their current predicament.
The factory was established under the Green Growth and Employment Programme 2017-2020 which also supported the development of coconut value chain in Kilifi County.
Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi, who witnessed the handover of Malindi Fresh Juice Processors Factory called on the cooperative society to embark on aggressive marketing for its products, saying it was foolhardy to continue producing pulp without proper marketing strategies.
“Even if the county government injects Kshs. 100 million to help farmers increase mango production or help the company come back to its feet, if you do not change your business model, you will end up not just with 1,000 unsold drums of pulp but as many as 50,000,” he warned.
MESPT through the support of the Danish International Development Agency has been awarded a five-year programme dubbed Green Jobs in Agriculture with funding of Kshs. 1 billion to be implemented in twelve counties.