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IGAD funded project
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The Project: “Enhancing climate resilience and nutrition uptake through value addition to the mango fruit in Kitui County” was implemented in 2014 in collaboration with Green Africa Foundation with support from the Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) under the Applied Research in Dry lands Grant Facility (ARDGF) and the Government of Kenya (GoK). The project cost was USD 199,650 and ended in 2016.

The project aimed at enhancing the resilience of the dry land communities in Kitui County through increased income earned from mango fruits. This was achieved through piloting a new approach to mango value addition to address the postharvest losses that were being experienced by the small holder mango farmers. The technology entailed putting in place mechanisms for conversion of the mango fruit into powder form in order to enhance its shelf life and its functional value. The end products included; mango flour, fortified flours (maize, sorghum, millet and cassava),and dried mango flakes. The powder is rich in irons, vitamin A and E and helps combat acidity and improve digestion. The advantage of mango powder is that it can be used in many different ways including direct consumption, or used as spice in salads, cereals and toast. The powder can be mixed with other kinds of flour and used for baking bread, making chapattis, and porridge.

In this sense, the project contributed to reinforcing food security in the arid and semi-arid lands and enhancing the nutrition value of the local staple food, which is mainly based on cassava, sorghum, millet and maize.

The purpose of the project was to improve value addition of the mango fruit through mango powder technology with the specific outputs being:

  1. Mango powder technology introduced and disseminated
  2. Capacity building of women groups on mango powder processing and marketing
  3. Awareness on mango powder products and nutritional value created
  4. Improved value chain management for mango fruits

KEY ACTIVITIES IMPLEMENTED INCLUDED:

  1. Mobilization of mango farmer groups and identification of pilot plant sites
  2. Socio-economic baseline survey
  3. Installation of Pilot Plants and Training on the Drying Technology
    1. Project inception workshop
    2. Installation of pilot plants and training on the drying technology
  4. Private sector engagement
    1. Production of samples and first batch of fortified flour
    2. Packaging and branding
    3. Product promotion
  5. Training of 600 farmers on best practices of mango production in 3 sub-counties of Kitui and provision of grafted seedlings to farmers.
  6. Monitoring and Evaluation

PROJECT ACHIEVEMENTS

DEVELOPMENT OF THE MANGO POWDERING TECHNOLOGY

NETFUND was to procure the Refractance® technology developed by Dr. Caleb Nindo of Washington University, but acquisition of the technology proved to be expensive. This challenge however provided NETFUND an opportunity to reverse engineer the complete processing line which included; Hybrid biomass and electrical dryers for crisping the mangoes©, Hammer mills, Disk mills, Solar driers, Mixers, Grain Destoners among other equipment.

INSTALLATION OF THE MANGO PROCESSING PLANTS AND TRAINING ON THE POWDERING TECHNOLOGY

Prior to the installation, the project implementation team carried out a socio- economic baseline study of Kitui County to establish the baseline indicators of key variables in the mango value chain which was meant to inform the basis of the project intervention. The baseline survey also informed the proper identification of suitable and representative sites for the set-up of the mango processing plants.

The 3 pilot plants were successfully set up in in three sub counties of Kitui namely: Mwingi West, Mwingi North and Kitui Central and are in full operation. The installation of the pilot plants was carried out alongside the training of the operations and maintenance teams for each of the plants to ensure smooth running of the machinery.

PRODUCTION OF SAMPLES AND FIRST BATCH OF FORTIFIED FLOUR

NETFUND oversaw the production of first samples of powder and the first batch of fortified flours.  The production process followed standard operating procedure and formula developed in collaboration with food technologists from the Kenya Industrial Research and Development Institute (KIRDI). Different types of fortified flours were produced i.e. fortified maize, sorghum, millet and cassava flours.

The purpose of producing the first powder samples and fortified flour was to subject them to analytical tests with the aim of establishing their physical and chemical properties as well as presence of biological life that could affect storage and consumption of the products. The results obtained from the tests indicated that powder samples and fortified flour products were fit for human consumption with; no presence of bacterial or other biological life, high energy values, and low moisture content with the allowed limits of micro and macro elements. The fortified sorghum flour has since received the KEBS mark of standardization while the other remaining flours are in the process of certification.

TRAINING OF FARMERS ON BEST PRACTICES OF MANGO FARMING

NETFUND sought to build the capacity of the mango farmers on mango value chain management by designing and training them on best practices of mango production.

The training involved the development of a Training Mango Booklet and a Mango Farm Spray Programme followed by practical and demonstrative trainings at each of the sub-counties with an average of 600 mango farmers trained and provided with planting materials. The training was carried out hand in hand with the establishment of mango tree nurseries and the planting of 6,000 mango trees in the 3 sub-counties of Kitui County.

The project has attracted additional donor interest from the Embassy of Sweden and Slovakia which have so far supported scale up of the processing plants and refinement of the products.

The project has given the mango farmers in Kitui County greater latitude in marketing their produce by eliminating dependence on the mango fruit’s natural lifecycle. In addition, the project has contributed to enhancing food security in the region by making the seasonal mango fruit and its products available for consumption throughout the year.

The project has therefore presented an opportunity for building resilience to the impacts of climate change, nutritional uptake and alleviating poverty among the local population.