ITEN, Kenya, Feb 1 – The UK government will construct a Sh2.3 billion irish and sweet potato factory plant in Iten, Elgeyo County.
The facility, with a processing capacity of 60,000 tonnes, was launched yesterday by the British high commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot.
The factory will process fresh and frozen irish and sweet potatoes, guaranteeing over 10,000 farmers steady prices in the county and the region.
Ambassador Marriot said at least 5,000 direct jobs will be created by the new plant.
In the next five-year, she expects additional 10,000 jobs to be created besides producing a new seed variety, which has the potential to double farmers’ yields.
“The factory which is the first potato processing factory in the region will reduce post-harvest losses and provide ready off take of potatoes, guaranteeing steady farm prices for over 10,000 smallholder potato farmers in Elgeyo Marakwet county and the region thus transforming the lives of thousands of smallholder farmers,” she said.
The factory, which is a partnership between the UK government and Select Fresh Produce Kenya Limited, will be implemented through the UK’s Sustainable Urban Economic Development Programme (SUED) in collaboration with the Iten municipality.
“Our county is the second in potato production in the country after Nyandarua but the farmers have little to show for their efforts as most of the money goes to middlemen while they earn very little,” Elgeyo Marakwet Governor Wisley Rotich said.
Fresh Produce Kenya CEO Eunice Mutua said her factory will work closely with local farmers to ensure that what they produce meets international standards.
She said the factory will be the first in the country and the third in Africa after Egypt and South Africa to process irish and sweet potatoes for the European market.
Mutua called on farmers in the country to support the factory by ensuring that they supply adequate raw materials.