In the words of Harriet Tubman – “Every great dream begins with a dreamer”, and that idealist is Francis Loree 👌. Francis was inspired to plant mangoes while at the age of 10 years after his friend from Marakwet gave him the sweetest thing he ever tasted, ‘Maemchon.’ Maemchon, a Pokot vernacular for mango, has become the most admired fruit tree in the valleys of the Great Rift Valley, Kenya.
It is a dream that was motivated by a regular visit to his friend across the borders. Francis then lived with his parents in Lomut, West Pokot, and his friend, Mr. Chelimo, was a resident in the nearby village, 3 km away, Sambalat. This regular visit turned out to be the most memorable in his lifetime. Chelimo’s parents gave them two oval kidney-shaped, slender pale yellow fruit that was juicy and syrupy after being served meals. This made him more curious, and he learned of the tree that produces this fragrant thing.
Upon learning, Francis promised himself that one day, he would have this in his compound. He began his journey in the 1980s with two mango trees. While he was in class eight, he went back to his friends’ home and brought two seedlings of the tree that turned to 390 mango trees on his farm. He was the pioneer of mango production in the area. Now, the community around Lomut has emulated his lively character to become the largest mango-producing zones in West Pokot County.
Francis Loree owns a 390 mango trees farm at Lomut, West Pokot. After putting a lot of effort into planting more and more mango seedling trees in a deserted ground marred by drought, he gained a fortune. It began as a passion for having fruits like the one in his friend’s home and turned to be a lucrative agribusiness area that could sustain him and his family.
Stories like this for Francis have inspired several organizations to chip in supporting mango prod uction, value additio
n, and marketing in West Pokot County. Under The EU Ustahimilivu Programme, a resilience project supported by the European Union to increase communities’ resilience in the ASAL areas of Kenya, CEFA (Agriculture and Water Provision), and E4IMPACT (Enterprise and Value Chain Development) have partnered to enhance the Mango value chain in the area.
The focus is ensuring increased production, value addition, and marketing of mangoes from Masol and Pellow Conservancies of West Pokot. With a clear and transparent beneficiary selection process, the groups of champion farmers like Francis Loree were capacity built on group dynamics and management to enable them to lead a group of other aspiring mango producers into up-and-coming mango production in the area.
The Champion farmers would give their mango farms as demo plots to the potential or aspiring selected beneficiaries on for the USTAHIMILIVU Mango Value Chain. In the spirit of the USTAHIMILIVU layering aspect, E4Impact Foundation has trained the 38 pre-selected mango champion farmers on group dynamics to learn group-related issues, group leadership and management, group entrepreneurship, and record-keeping, and financial management in their respective groups.
Therefore, these being preliminary activities before the issuance of the mango seedlings, capacity building on modern mango production, and Business Model Design as well as market linkages. The programme is dedicated to coach and scale up champion farmers and their groups to become successful enterprises in the mango value chain. Francis and other champion farmers will be instrumental in guiding the new farmers into profitable production and marketing.
By Dorcas Yano
E4Impact Business Coach – West Pokot