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Over 1.3b tonnes of food going to waste annually due to poor post-harvest handling

NEWS
By James Wanzala | November 25th 2014

More than a third of the food produced in the world for human consumption is lost or wasted before it reaches shops from the farms.

The estimated 1.3 billion tonnes can feed two billion Kenyans, according to a senior government official.

Speaking during the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) funded Kenya Horticulture Competitiveness Project (KHCP) Technology Fund graduation for 20 horticultural micro-processors at a Nairobi hotel, Industrialisation Principal Secretary Wilson Songa said millions of tonnes of food are wasted or lost during post-harvest handling, yet two million Kenyans suffer from chronic malnutrition.

“Poor post-harvest techniques are what causes too much wastage due to lack of packaging, cooling facilities and last week’s event is a step towards alleviating such wastage,” said Dr Songa, adding that counter-theft authorities will tighten the noose to deter fake packaging.

He urged microprocessors to embrace value addition to increase their crop’s shelf life and support young entrepreneurs in agribusiness.

“The participation by senior representatives of major Kenyan retailers and supermarket chains at today’s function gives testimony to the strength of these market linkages and the potential for new product development to satisfy the change in consumer tastes,” he said.

Songa told processors to fortify food for better niche markets and to partner with financial institutions that have products tailor-made for agribusiness entrepreneurs.

“The Food, Drugs and Chemical Substances Act of 2012 requires all packaged wheat flour, maize meal, salt, cooking fats and oils to be fortified with basic nutrients like iron, vitamins and essential minerals,” said Songa.

He explained that merging of the East African Community (EAC) and Common Markets for East and South Africa (Comesa) will be an added advantage. “The merging of EAC with Comesa will create a huge market for agribusiness products and the future is bright for agribusiness in Kenya, East Africa and the African continent,” said Songa.

 “I encourage farmers to put more effort in agribusiness because it is what the government is also emphasising on,” said USAID-KHCP project Deputy Chief of Party Dr Paul Omanga.

Processing capacity

The event saw more than 20 microprocessors supported by USAID awarded certificates. They had been equipped with a range of low-cost equipment, trainings and technologies to enhance their processing capacity and expansion of value-added products.

KHCP has been working with food processors over the last 18 months to reach more than 10,000 farmers being provided with alternative markets. The microprocessors, whose products include orange-fleshed sweet potato flour, banana flour and pumpkin flour among others, distribute their products through supermarkets and other outlets.

The project has seen manufacturing output increase from Sh18 million in 2013 to Sh108 million in 2014.

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