Makueni County has received Sh110 million grant from the European Union to set up a puree processing plant for its mangoes in Kalamba.
The county is the first to benefit from a European Union and Kenyan government agreement to fund local economic projects across 15 counties, under the Instrument for Devolution Advice and Support (IDEAS) programme.
Currently, the factory produces mango puree only. It started operations last year and has so far benefitted over 12,000 families through improved prices of Sh15 per kilo for mangoes.
“The processing project will boost incomes of mango farmers, increase employment, and generate revenues for Makueni County,” EU Ambassador to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, said when the deal was signed on Wednesday.
The county hopes to boost its total value from the mango sector from the current Sh3 billion by curbing post-harvest waste that previously stood at 40 per cent.
“As a county, we focus on creating economic independence for the citizenry and this is why we embraced the IDEAS project,” Governor Kivutha Kibwana said.
EU expressed confidence in the county to uphold high standards of financial management in the project and challenged the remaining counties to fast-track their projects and meet conditions for the funding programme.
Project feasibility, genuinely-owned land by the county and environmental impact assessment are some of the funding conditions set by EU.
IDEAS is a bilateral agreement between EU and the Kenyan government to boost devolution through strengthening of devolved governance institutions and sustained local economic development.
EU has set aside Sh1.6 billion out of the total Sh3 billion under the programme, with every county getting Sh110 million for its selected project.
The projects will create employment, provide quality and nutritious food products and help farmers to easily access markets for their products.