The Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP), funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAid) has backed a new initiative that will see exports of Kenyan mangoes grown by smallholders and supplied by one exporter increase by up to 20 per cent.
Keitt Exporters Ltd, which is already one of Kenya’s largest mango exporters, has partnered with USAid-KHCP in the new development. The company recently held a launch event attended buy more than 100 growers who were addressed by deputy county director of agriculture for Kitui, Kiva Julius. He praised the drive to educate the producers on how to improve their mango yields and quality, and noted the need to take advantage of growing market opportunities. As part of the project, 14 demonstration sites have been set up and producers are learning how to meet export standards to earn premium prices. In structured training sessions, growers practise techniques such as grafting and pruning and the implementation of integrated pest management.
Growers have so far been very enthusiastic about grafting technology allowing them to adopt new mango varieties and about the use of irrigation to ensure their trees can produce fruit for more than one season a year. Keitt agronomists are also advising growers on mango varieties and they have already established a mango nursery in Kitui to enable farmers to access certified, high-quality rootstock. Richard Mwova, a local demonstration grower said: “We are pleased Keitt is expanding its mango supplier base to Kitui since us farmers in this region have the land and only need to better understand the expertise to drive up production.”
Keitt Exporters Ltd is planning to contract over 1,500 mango farmers from the Kitui area to increase its exports by 15 to 20 per cent. It supplies a range of mango varieties including Tommy Atkins, Kent, Keitt, Ngowe, Apple and Sabeen. The firm also exports avocados, papaya and passionfruit to western European markets.