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Study: Kenya loses food worth Sh72 billion in post-harvest loss

Joseph Sheikh sorts his tomatoes from the top of a lorry at Riosiri Market in Kisii county on 21/2/2021. [Sammy Omingo, Standard]

A study has shown that Kenya loses Sh18 billion in tomatoes' post-harvest loss.

The Food and Agriculture Organization food policy brief stated that Kenya is losing 30 per cent of food produced after harvest.

This food loss translates to an extrapolated monetary loss of up to Sh72 billion.

Following a study in Machakos, Tharakanithi, Taita-Taveta, Makueni, and Kitui, the report adds that bananas post-harvest loss stands at Sh2 billion, with sukuma wiki at Sh4.6 billion.

Green grams post-harvest loss stands at Sh15 billion.

According to the report, 20 per cent of food is lost at the farm level, while 60 per cent at the market stage.

"In some instances, 100 per cent of food produced goes to waste, especially during bumper harvest seasons."

The comments come on the backdrop of this year’s World Food Safety Day themed 'Safe food today for a healthy tomorrow'. 

Post-harvest losses translate to reduced income for farmers and households.

At the same time, six million Kenyans are expected to go hungry now and in the future.

The report further states that food loss traps the country in the yearly cycle of abundance and lack.

It also cited dumpsites all over the country that are pungent and an eyesore.

In the long run, poor-quality food is sold and consumed.

FAO called for knowledge and practical skills in post-harvest management and handling.

It also called for better tools and equipment to facilitate the best post-harvest practices.

On information technology, the brief stated that software for information dissemination is needed across the food chain.

There is also a need for regulation from food production to food management

Some of the solutions FAO recommended in the brief include having county governments set up collaborative actions of food systems in the ministries of Trade, Agriculture, and Health to ensure the food system works efficiently.

"Inter-county trade agreements will help in the management of bumper harvest from one county and supply to the other in deficit. This will, in turn, boost better roads and markets.

It also called for public-private partnerships and agro solutions through agro-investments such as e-extension, manufacturing for agro-inputs, and processing plant for agro-produce.

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