Banana farmers in Taita Taveta County have been asked to increase production to benefit from a Sh116 million processing plant that is under construction.

The plant will give farmers an opportunity to earn more after decades of selling their produce at a loss. The construction is funded by the European Union and the county government. The county’s department of agriculture said the factory will be completed by March next year.

Deputy Governor Majala Mlagui said farmers need to increase production to be able to sustain the plant.

“Increase your banana acreage so that we can benefit from this project,” she told Taveta farmers. County chief officer for Agriculture Boniface Mwakio said they had been advising farmers to embrace tissue culture crops, which yield more.

He said the bananas, besides being high-yielding, are less prone to diseases unlike the traditional variety.

Mwakio said they were concerned that farmers from neighbouring counties and even as far as Tanzania would benefit from the plant if locals fail to increase their production.

Over 500 farmers are expected to benefit from the plant once it starts operation next year.

“We have distributed tissue culture seedlings to farmers across the county. We don’t want them to be unprepared when processing starts,” he said. Some farmers have been transporting their green bananas to markets in Taita Taveta, Mombasa and Nairobi towns. Some also sell them to Tanzania but at low prices.

CREDIT-Lucy Mkanyika

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