Kisii County Governor Simba Arati has commissioned an Avocado Oil Processing Plant in a colourful ceremony witnessed by the British High Commissioner to Kenya H.E Jane Marriott.
The first agro-processing plant in the county which is supported by the Kisii County Government and the UK government through the Sustainable Urban Economic Development (SUED) programme, is a game changer for thousands of avocado farmers in Kisii and neighbouring counties.
The Governor commended the British Government for supporting the project, under AvoFresh Processors Limited, a leading producer of Avocado oil, saying Kisii Municipality is among top 12 fast growing municipalities in the country where the UK government is implementing SUED programme.
“Agriculture is the mainstay for over 80 percent of the County residents, and this is a dream come true for the thousands of avocado farmers in Kisii and surrounding areas,” he said.
Marriott assured the Governor and the people of Kisii county of the support of the UK government saying they will work with development partners and the investor to ensure that the factory runs successfully for the benefit of farmers who have been exploited by middlemen for decades.
The Governor noted that the original goal of the project was to enable utilization of both the Hass and local variety of the avocado fruit to benefit thousands of farmers as most of them still have plenty of the local variety.
“This initial stage of collecting avocados across the County for oil production is a great start as we strive to grade our avocados in future for export and for processing. This indeed will result in maximum benefit to the residents of Kisii County and the region as a whole. We are very thankful because we are aware that this is support from citizens of the UK to our residents. We intend to account for this by demonstrating evidence for improved Quality of Life both as a government responsibility and a moral obligation that we must fulfill,” he said.
Simba told officers in the department of Agriculture to give the investor full support to ensure sustainability of the project adding that his administration will continue mobilizing farmers through their respective cooperative societies to ensure continuous and sustainable supply of raw materials.
“Today’s event is a significant milestone in implementation of the SUED programme in Kisii Municipality, which began with development of the Urban Economic Plan (UEP) in 2020. One of the key value chains that was identified for implementation in the UEP, through a highly consultative process with residents of the Municipality, was the establishment of an Avocado Processing Plant,” he observed.
He said the department of agriculture has embarked on a programme that will see annual distribution of the Hass seedlings to farmers in order to increase production of the Hass variety.
The Governor also indicated that his administration will continue coming up with legislation geared towards creating an enabling environment for other investments in various sectors of the economy and asked the county assembly through the Speaker to support the move by approving legislation for implementation.
“As we provide our unlimited support to the investor and while respecting the principles of a free market economy, I ask the management of AvoFresh to try as much and ensure our farmers, who have suffered in the hands of middlemen for several years, get value for their hard labor,” said Simba.