Wambugu apple launches state of-the-art fruit grading machine and packing warehouse.

Wambugu Apples Grading machine and Packing Warehouse

By Kimuri Mwangi

Wambugu Apple officially launched its state of-the-art fruit grading machine and packing warehouse. This facility marks a significant leap forward in the agricultural sector, boasting an impressive packing line with a capacity of 10 tons per hour, operating around the clock to meet the demands of the growing fruit market.

Speaking during the launch, at the Infinity Industrial Park- Off the Eastern Bypass, Kate Wambugu the Director, and Wambugu Apple Ambassador started by reflecting on her younger years, watching and learning from her father Mr. Wambugu, who pioneered The Wambugu Apple at Tetu in Nyeri County before they relocated to Laikipia.

Kate Wambugu the Director, and Wambugu Apple Ambassador

 “I grew up seeing my father propagate apples, grow them and establish this one-of-a-kind variety of apple that fruits all year round. This meant that he had to constantly look for a market for his fruits and the losses were immeasurable. This remarkable journey led to the apple being officially registered by the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KEPHIS) as Wambugu Apple. So far, there are over 2,500 farmers growing Wambugu Apple in Kenya, and over 36 other countries in Africa and regions beyond, in Caribbean, and Asian regions. That exposure nearly 40 years ago, is our current motivation to build onto my father’s vision of Wambugu Apple. This packhouse addresses these issues head-on, providing a platform for efficient and effective post-harvest loss management,” said Kate.

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Mathew Njenga the Chairman Kenya Apple Growers and Exporters Association (KAGEA), highlighted that the packing line’s exceptional output of 10-15 tons per hour ensures efficiency in processing and packaging fruits, providing a streamlined solution for farmers and distributors. The facility he added is the first of its kind in Africa, given its capability to grade and pack a diverse range of fruits, including avocadoes, apples, mangoes, passion fruit, peaches, pears, apricots and tomatoes.

Apples sorting and grading in the packhouse

“This broad-spectrum capability positions Wambugu Apple as a comprehensive solution for farmers cultivating various fruits. This investment has been made possible through debt financing from Diamond Trust Bank of half a million dollars (500,000$). The warehouse’s operations are designed not only to enhance the economic prospects of farmers but also to promote environmentally conscious farming practices,” said Njenga.

Kate Wambugu (centre) with her parents Mr and Mrs Wambugu during the launch

 He further underscored the importance of fruit farming as a conservation agriculture intervention. “Fruit cultivation contributes to soil health and biodiversity. Our vision is going beyond mere grading. Wambugu Apples aims to become a hub for value addition, exploring opportunities to process and package fruit-based products. This strategic vision aligns with the broader goal of adding significant value to the agricultural supply chain, benefitting both farmers and consumers. This investment has come to fruition following multi-stakeholder engagements that range from government, learning, development and financial institutions. To Wambugu Apple, this blend is our recipe on the role collaborations have in steering growth and impact.”

Dr. Dr. Humphrey Njuguna, the Chairperson Moi University Council

Dr. Dr. Humphrey Njuguna, the Chairperson Moi University Council lauded the effort saying the University had planted 100 acres of Wambugu Apple and they were planning to increase the acreage under the fruit to 1000 acres. There are plans also to venture into value addition.

Dr. Betty Kibaara, Director, Rockefeller Foundation who also attended the launch marks a pivotal moment in the agricultural landscape, symbolizing a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the prosperity of farmers.

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