An estimated Sh72 billion is lost every season by not addressing food loss and waste, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Kenya has said.
FAO also estimates that food losses in sub-Saharan Africa adds up to Sh432 billion annually.
FAO Kenya Assistant representative Hamisi Williams, in a webinar to mark the first International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste on Tuesday, said farmers lose earnings as they struggle to manage, store and transport produce to the market.
He noted that about 30 per cent of food is wasted during the process of harvesting and transport, 20 per cent of which occurs at the farm level.
“Reducing food loss early in the supply chain - on the farm - is likely to yield the strongest positive result for greater food security,” said Williams, adding that another 30 per cent of fresh produce gets wasted in post-harvest levels and markets, causing billions of dollars in losses.
Food loss typically takes place at the production, storage, processing and distribution stages in the food value chain, while food waste refers to food, which is of good quality and fit for consumption, but is not consumed because it is discarded either before or after it is left to spoil.
According to the UN agency, a vast majority of food loss across Africa happens between harvest and the point of sale, while very little is wasted by consumers after purchase.
According to the FAO analysis, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused consumers in many low-income countries to purchase only staple carbohydrates and non-perishables, resulting in perishable food going to waste.
Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga said the ministry aims to cut down the loss and wastage of food to at least six per cent.