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By Nicholas Waitathu
Kenya: The country incurs post-harvest losses to the tune of over Sh50 billion every year, a new report has revealed. The loss representing 60 per cent of food produced expensively is incurred due to poor logistics between the farm and the collection points.
A report entitled From Farm to Market launched last week notes that the bulk of horticulture growers also suffer 40 per cent of loss in production.
The report compiled out of a research conducted in the fresh produce growing areas between April 2012 and April 2013 blames poor logistics between the farm and the collection points of the commodities.
Kenya Network for Dissemination of Agricultural Technologies (Kendat) and other global partners compiled the report. The report says the responsibility of bailing out majority of the current challenges lie with the county governments.
“Fortunately, there are many organisations in both the private sector and civil society that are ready and willing to partner with the county governments to assist with the provision of agricultural technology, mechanisation, conservation agriculture, and other expertise,” said Kendat Chief Executive Pascal Kaumbutho.
These partnerships, he added, can make horticulture more attractive and turn into a major employer even for youth. Kaumbutho observed during the recent launch of the report in Nairobi that smallholder farming presents logistical challenge due to the fragmentation of production into small units. Horticulture earns the country approximately Sh90 billion every year.
Government attributes heavy post-harvest losses to lack of fresh produce market equipped with modern cooling facilities in various regions. Agriculture Secretary Anne Onyango called for implementation of public-private partnerships, saying the private sector held immense expertise in agricultural technology that could be harnessed in such partnerships to uplift the welfare of the Kenyan small-scale farmer.
Wachira Kaguongo, chief executive of the National Potato Council of Kenya, said the Government and private sector should collaborate to pursue efforts aimed at reducing massive wastage of fresh produce in the country.
The report further notes that 20 to 40 per cent of the price of fruits and vegetables on the supermarket shelves is a factor of transport, time and damage. Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said sound strategies are being fast-tracked to assist in minimising the increasing post-harvesting losses to majority of farmers. While attending the 28th session of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) regional conference for Africa in Tunis last week, Mr Koskei confirmed that Government is working on a legal framework on Warehousing Receipting System (WRS). He said WRS offers farmers an opportunity to store their produce in certified warehouses at a fee before offering the same for sale into the market. Government in August 2010 had proposed to establish a Sh5 billion market in Nairobi with a view to reducing massive wastage of fresh produce along the value chain. But the process hit a snag.