A new tomato processing plant is set to change the fortunes of farmers in Nyando, Kisumu County, offering them a ready market for their produce.
This is after the Kochieng’ Tomato Processing Plant opened its doors in Nyamware village, to promote agro-industry and improve livelihoods.
Farmers in Kobura who have been facing the challenge of a ready market for their tomatoes can now increase the shelf life of their products.
Kochieng's Multipurpose cooperative society chairman Walter Adel said that tomato farmers lack an organised system of marketing their produce.
"But with the processing plant, we will prolong the shelf life of the tomatoes by adding value. Tomato is generally a perishable vegetable, if there's a lack of ready market, it can easily go to waste," said Mr Adel.
The county government has set up a Sh20 million fruit processing plant with various machines for value addition.
According to Kisumu CEC for Land, Housing and Urban planning Dixon Obungu the facility has cleaners, boilers and tomato paste-making machines.
"We bought the machines locally worth Sh7 million to help farmers to curb post-harvest losses in fresh produce," said Mr Obungu.
He said that the processing plant can serve as a business hub for juice processing for other fruit juices such as pineapple, passion and mangoes.
He said that once the machines are inspected and tested for processing, then the plant will be officially launched.
Kisumu Chief Officer for agriculture Dr Paul Omanga told the Business Daily that most rice farmers in the Kano plains grow rice once a year and the plant will offer them an alternative.
"For the remaining part of the year, the land remains fallow. They usually take to tomato and vegetable farming during off-peak seasons," said Dr Omanga.
"There are a variety of products farmers can make from tomatoes such as tomato paste, tomato jam, puree, tomato sauce and tomato powder," he said.
Nyanza Regional Coordinator and Western Kenya Irrigation Schemes Manager Joel Tanui said with the establishment of a processing plant thousands of rice farmers will benefit.
"We will need to mobilize rice farmers to embrace horticultural crops like tomatoes during off-season periods,” said Mr Tanui.