Kitui County Governor Charity Ngilu has commissioned a Sh20 million (€158,000) fruit processing plant to mitigate post-harvest losses, leverage value addition and increase farmer profitability. The food processing machinery has a production capacity of 5 tons per hour, which translates to 800 tons a month.
Ngilu said that fresh tomatoes will be processed at the plant to manufacture tomato puree/ketchup, tomato concentrate and tomato paste with a shelf life of two years without additives. Speaking at the Agricultural Training Centre (ATC) in Kitui Monday, the governor pointed out that the plant will be used for tomato and fruits value addition. She revealed that the post-harvest quality and shelf life of the fruit in part will depend on some post-harvest handling practices and treatments.
Ngilu said that handling practices like harvesting, pre-cooling, cleaning and disinfecting, sorting and grading, packaging, storing, and transportation played an important role in maintaining quality and extending shelf life.