Empowering Farmers through Knowledge

CABI’s Empowering Kenyan Mango Farmers: Unlocking Export Potential Through Training and Innovation

In the heart of Kenya, a quiet revolution is underway, one that promises to transform the fortunes of smallholder mango farmers. Under the banner of the PlantwisePlus initiative, CABI is spearheading an ambitious training program designed to equip the country’s young service providers with the skills and knowledge required to elevate the quality of mango production. The ultimate goal? To unlock the doors to lucrative export markets for these farmers.

The Training of Youth Service Providers: Central to this endeavor is the “Training of Youth Service Providers” project, a collaborative effort led by Keitt Exporters Limited in partnership with the Micro Enterprises Support Programme Trust (MESPT). Together, they aim to address a myriad of challenges faced by mango farmers, with a particular focus on combatting the relentless threat posed by fruit flies.

A Coalition for Change: In this monumental undertaking, various key players have united in common cause. The project draws support from National Training of Trainers representing the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) and the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries, and Co-operatives (MoALFC). Additionally, it boasts the involvement of Maxie and Max Africa, the Pest Control Products Board (PCPB), aak-GROW, and the Government of Makueni County.

Kenya’s Mango Export Potential: Kenya, standing as the 15th largest mango producer globally, regards this fruit as its third most critical export after avocado and banana. However, despite these impressive figures, KALRO reports that farmers often lose between 40-45% of their crop. This heartbreaking loss is primarily attributed to poor harvesting and post-harvest handling practices, as well as the relentless challenges posed by pests and diseases.

The Fruit Fly Dilemma: Kenya’s export of mangoes to the European Union faced significant hurdles, primarily due to the fruit fly menace. Consequently, mango exports to Europe were on hold, with the country exporting solely to the United Arab Emirates, where prices are comparatively lower than those offered by EU countries. The relaxed quality standards in Dubai also made it a less demanding market compared to the EU.

Mango Farming Challenges in Makueni: Mango farmers in Makueni County grapple with multiple challenges, including the inability to provide year-round care for their mango trees and a lack of knowledge about recommended Good Agricultural Practices for the mango value chain and nursery certification.

CABI’s Impact: Linda Likoko, Projects Support Officer at CABI, emphasizes the transformative role of the training provided to young service providers. Previously confined to roles as pickers, pruners, sorters, and graders of mangos, these providers have now been equipped to offer advisory and spray services, providing an additional source of income.

Closing the Agricultural Extension Gap: This newly trained cadre of service providers adds to the ranks of 31 young service providers who underwent training as part of the Plantwise Plus program in May 2023. These providers are associated with the Makueni County Fruit Processors Cooperative (MCFPC) and are prepared to offer essential skills in agricultural extension services within the region.

Future Prospects: CABI envisions these service providers as ambassadors for safe, high-quality food production. The goal is to see them not only as lead farmers and mentors but also as trainers, earning a livelihood by spreading the message of excellence in agricultural practices.

Further Capacity Enhancement: Through a partnership between the MCFPC and the International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology (ICIPE), these young service providers have received further training in fruit fly management. This additional expertise will further enhance their ability to support farmers in pest management.

In closing, Deogratius Magero, Youth Engagement Manager at CABI, highlights the pivotal role of the youth in advancing safe pest management practices, which ultimately contribute to higher quality yields. These initiatives, driven by CABI and its partners, not only empower farmers but also strengthen the foundation of Kenya’s agricultural future.

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