13 March 2006

Kenya: Del Monte And Farmers' Co-Op in Land Deal

Nairobi — A farmers' society in Machakos will lease out 1,000 acres to an international firm for fruit and coffee farming.

Del Monte Kenya will have rights to the land for 15 years and also pay off a Sh2.2 million debt that Kayatta Farmers Co-operative Society owes the Co-operative Bank of Kenya.

Society chairman Moses Muasya led the farmers in endorsing the deal with Del Monte at a special general meeting at the weekend.

Del Monte field manager Cornelius Olende and engineer Simon Ndambuki represented the firm, which has vast pineapple plantations in Thika District.

Mr Olende said the new farm is expected to push up the company's production to 360,000 tonnes of the fruits a year.

The loan would be offset with proceeds from the farm, Mr Olende said.

The company said that, area residents would be given priority in employment.

The district deputy cooperatives officer, Mr Esther Kivindyo, praised the move and urged other societies to emulate it so that members could benefit from idle land.

Mr Muasya thanked the Government for waiving the society's Sh60 million bank loan, saying the move had opened the way for the deal with Del Monte.

Co-operative Bank's Machakos branch manager Benson Rateng' said the bank would release the society's title deed once the Sh2.2 million is repaid.

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