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Apple grading and packing warehouse revolutionizes Kenya’s agricultural sector

Wambugu Apple Grading and Packing Warehouse, a cutting-edge facility for fruit grading and packing, was officially launched, signifying a significant stride forward in Kenya’s agricultural sector. The state-of-the-art warehouse features an impressive packing line with a capacity of 10 tons per hour, operating 24/7 to meet the escalating demands of the thriving fruit market.

During the launch ceremony held at the Infinity Industrial Park, located off the Eastern Bypass, Kate Wambugu, Director and Wambugu Apple Ambassador, reminisced about her formative years, observing and learning from her father, Mr. Wambugu, the pioneer of Wambugu Apple. “I grew up witnessing my father propagate apples, cultivate them, and establish this unique variety that bears fruit all year round. This meant he had to constantly seek markets for his produce, resulting in immeasurable losses. This remarkable journey led to the official registration of the apple variety as Wambugu Apple under the Kenya Plant Health Inspectorate (KEPHIS). Currently, there are over 2,500 farmers cultivating Wambugu Apple in Kenya, as well as in more than 36 other African countries, the Caribbean, and Asian regions. The exposure gained nearly four decades ago serves as our inspiration to build upon my father’s vision of Wambugu Apple. This packhouse directly addresses these challenges by providing an efficient and effective post-harvest management platform.”

Kate Wambugu, Director Wambugu Apples

Mathew Njenga, Chairman of the Kenya Apple Growers and Exporters Association (KAGEA), emphasized the exceptional throughput of the packing line, capable of processing and packaging 10-15 tons of fruit per hour, thereby ensuring efficiency for farmers and distributors. Being the first facility of its kind in Africa, it possesses the ability to grade and pack a wide array of fruits, including avocados, apples, mangoes, passion fruit, peaches, pears, apricots, and tomatoes. This comprehensive capability positions Wambugu Apple as a holistic solution for farmers cultivating various fruit types. The investment of $500,000 to establish the warehouse was made possible through debt financing from Diamond Trust Bank.

The operations of the warehouse are not only geared towards enhancing the economic prospects of farmers but also promoting environmentally conscious farming practices. Njenga further underscored the significance of fruit farming as a means of conservation agriculture intervention. “Fruit cultivation contributes to soil health, biodiversity, and water conservation, aligning with sustainable agricultural practices.”

Wambugu Apples envisions itself as more than just a grading facility. Its goal is to become a hub for value addition, exploring opportunities to process and package fruit-based products. This strategic vision aligns with the broader objective of adding substantial value to the agricultural supply chain, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

The realization of this investment follows multi-stakeholder engagements involving government entities, educational institutions, developmental organizations, and financial institutions. Wambugu Apple recognizes the vital role collaborations play in driving growth and impact.

Dr. Betty Kibaara, Director of the Rockefeller Foundation, who was present at the launch, hailed the establishment of the Wambugu Apple Grading and Packing Warehouse as a pivotal moment in the agricultural landscape. She emphasized that it signifies a commitment to innovation, sustainability, and the prosperity of farmers. With the commencement of its operations, Wambugu Apples Limited is poised to play a crucial role in shaping the future of post-harvest management and generating socio-economic impact for all stakeholders in the value chain.

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