Kenya certifies first privately run warehouse

Trade PS Alfred Ombudo K'Ombudo during his vetting before the National Assembly Departmental Committee on Trade on November 15, 2022. [Boniface Okendo, Standard]

Afex Fair Trade, Kenya, a farmer service company in Kenya has received a certification for one of its warehouses as a warehouse receipt operator.

The Warehouse Receipt System Council (WRSC) at the Soy Mateeny warehouse in Uasin Gishu County did the certification, marking the first time that a warehouse receipt operator license has been issued to a private sector company.

Principal  Secretary  State Department of Trade, Alfred K'ombudo, commended Afex and said that the government has  plans  of  increasing  certified  warehouses  across  the  country  for  the  safe  storage of farmers' produce.

"We want to strengthen our Warehouse Receipt System (WRS). This is because it's key to ensuring that post-harvest losses are greatly reduced and that farmers can rely on well-established and well-managed facilities," said K'ombudo, speaking at the certification of the warehouse.

Afex, which began operations in Kenya in 2021, has 17 warehouses spread across two counties in Kenya. It has registered over 11,000farmers and traded over 11,000 metric tonnes of maize.

The company’s Managing Director, Tabitha Njuguna, indicates that this certification will enable it to do more.

 “Warehouse receipt systems are fundamental to Afex’s work in unlocking finance and further strengthening financial inclusion for farmers across Kenya. The benefits of functional warehouse receipt systems are well documented, especially for farmers. Particularly exciting for us is the ability to improve the livelihoods of farmers who work with us,” said Njuguna.

The Warehouse Receipt System, which was launched in July 2020 by the Agriculture Ministry, enables farmers to hold produce in certified warehouses where they can be tested, cleaned, graded, and then stored, with the owners of the commodity receiving a receipt as proof of ownership.

This provides the farmers with the option to sell their produce when prices are favourable, while also serving the purpose of reducing post-harvest losses in the country.

 “This certification opens the space for private  investment  and  participation  in  the  Warehouse  Receipt  System  in  Kenya,” said Samwel Ogola CEO of WRSC.

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