MANGO FARMING IN MAKUENI
Mango farming is a popular agricultural activity in Makueni County, located in southeastern Kenya. It is one of the leading counties producing a high number of mangoes in Kenya.With its warm climate and fertile soils, the region is ideal for growing high-quality mangoes that are in demand both locally and internationally.
Mango farming is a major source of income for many farmers in Makueni County. The most commonly grown mango varieties in the region include Kent, Haden, Tommy Atkins, and Keitt. Mangoes are typically grown on small-scale farms, with most farmers owning between one and five acres of land.
Mango farming in Makueni County is usually done using traditional methods, with farmers using organic fertilizers and natural pest control methods. Irrigation is necessary during the dry season to ensure the trees receive adequate water. Mango trees take about four to six years to mature and start producing fruit, and with proper care, can continue to produce high-quality fruit for up to 30 years.
Marketing is an essential aspect of mango farming in Makueni County. Most farmers sell their mangoes to middlemen who transport the fruit to markets in Nairobi and other major cities in Kenya. However, some farmers have formed cooperatives to market their mangoes collectively and earn higher prices.
Export markets for mangoes have also opened up in recent years, with countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Europe importing high-quality Kenyan mangoes. This has created new opportunities for farmers in Makueni County to expand their markets and increase their incomes.
Over the years, the government has implemented various programs and initiatives to improve the quality of mangoes produced and to create better market opportunities for farmers.The government of Kenya has implemented various programs aimed at supporting mango farming in Makueni County. One such program is the National Agricultural and Rural Inclusive Growth Project (NARIGP), which is funded by the World Bank. The project seeks to increase productivity and market access for smallholder farmers, including mango farmers in Makueni County. The project provides farmers with training on modern farming techniques, access to finance, and links them to markets.
Another government program supporting mango farming in Makueni County is the National Horticultural Development Authority (NHDA). The NHDA provides technical support to mango farmers, including training on best practices in crop management, pest and disease control, and post-harvest handling.
The government has also invested in building and improving infrastructure to support mango marketing in Makueni County. For instance, the government has constructed several market centers and cold storage facilities to help farmers store and sell their produce. The construction of these facilities has created better market opportunities for farmers, as they can now sell their produce directly to consumers.
Despite the potential for high profits, mango farming in Makueni County faces several challenges. One of the biggest challenges is the lack of access to markets, which forces many farmers to sell their mangoes at low prices to middlemen. This is exacerbated by the lack of proper storage facilities, which leads to spoilage and wastage of the fruit.
Another challenge faced by mango farmers in Makueni County is the lack of access to credit and finance. Many farmers are unable to access the funds they need to invest in their farms and improve their production methods.
Mango farming in Makueni County has the potential to be a profitable and sustainable agricultural activity for small-scale farmers. With proper care, farmers can produce high-quality fruit that is in demand both locally and internationally. However, addressing the challenges faced by farmers, such as access to markets and finance, is essential to ensure the long-term success of mango farming in the region.