The European Union has extended Sh110 million to the Makueni county government for a mango juice processor.
The county is the first to benefit from an EU and Kenyan government agreement to fund economic projects across 15 counties under the Instrument for Devolution Advice and Support (IDEAS) programme.
Currently, the factory produces mango pulp only. It started operations last year and has so far benefited over 12,000 families through improved prices of Sh15 per kilo of mangoes.
"The mango processing project will boost income for farmers, increase employment, and generate revenue for the county," EU Ambassador to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, said when the deal was signed Wednesday.
The county hopes to boost its value from the mango sector from the current Sh3 billion per year by curbing post-harvest waste that stands at 40 per cent. "As a county we focus on creating economic independence for the citizenry and this is why we embraced the IDEAS project," Makueni governor Kivutha Kibwana said at the signing ceremony.
The EU expressed confidence in the county to uphold high standards of financial management and challenged other counties to fast-track their projects and meet conditions for the funding programme. Project feasibility, presence of land and environmental impact assessment are some of the conditions set by EU.
IDEAS is a bilateral agreement between the EU and the Kenyan government to boost devolution through strengthening of devolved governance institutions and sustained local economic development.
Each county will receive Sh110 million out of the total Sh3 billion under the programme.
The projects are meant to create employment, boost quality and nutritious food products and help farmers to easily access markets for their products.
Some of the projects are construction of markets, abattoirs, fruit and milk processors.