A group of over 40 farmers from Vihiga County has put up a banana processing plant at Serem Market to provide market for other growers in the area who were selling their produce to middlemen at Sh200-400 a bunch of 60 kilos but now will earn up to Sh900 selling to the group.
The farmers brought together under Hamisi Horticultural Development Group (HHDG) are processing bananas into flour and making a variety of products that include cakes, biscuits, crisps, doughnuts, bread, ugali and, chapatis that attract more income.
It is a revolution that has transcended boundaries and won admiration beyond Vihiga County.
“The aspect of value addition has been the best thing that has ever happened to our group. We are not only increasing the shelf life of our bananas, we are also realizing more income that we did when we were selling the bananas raw. Every single member of the group now has had their lives transformed and fortunes change with this value addition venture. We are glad we discovered it,” said Margaret Amimo, the group’s secretary.
The group now buys at least 20 bunches of bananas from farmers every week to process the products an initiative that has been identified as the key components in helping the country win the war on food security.
“We have seen real impact and enthusiasm among our women members in embracing this value addition venture we are engaged in because women can see impressive results. Such innovations need to exist to spur more women to dedicate more attention to agriculture since they form the bulk of the food producers in this country,” said Amino.
The secretary is an inspiration to other members as she grows over 200 stems of the high yielding, disease tolerant tissue culture bananas realized that there were limitless opportunities in banana production.
Her championing of tissue culture banana farming in the area has seen her and the group feted in several awards.
Though the group has not started contracting farmers, the idea looks appealing in order to secure the growers’ loyalty who is still at ‘first come first serve’ basis.
“We would like to enter into a mutual agreement with banana farmers who are interested to supply us with the produce. This will enable us get the first priority from them when the crops are mature for harvest,” said Amino.