How innovation and technology can help Kenya fight food waste, loss

Participants sample foods during the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste at University of Nairobi on September 29, 2023. [Stafford Ondego,Standard]

Kenya is facing a major challenge of food waste and loss, which affects food security, nutrition, climate change and economic development.

According to experts, about 14 per cent of the food produced for human consumption is lost along the supply chain, while another 17 per cent is wasted at the consumption level.

This means that millions of people are missing out on food that could feed them, while wasting precious resources such as land, water and energy.

However, there is hope that innovation and technology can help Kenya and other countries to reduce food waste and loss and transform their agri-food systems.

This was the message that experts delivered at the University of Nairobi on Friday, September 29, 2023, to mark the International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste.

"We expect we will be able to put up a one-stop shop where people can inquire and protect against food loss," said Prof. Jane Ambuko, an Associate Professor of Horticulture at the University of Nairobi.

She said that the university is setting up an agricultural innovation technology transfer centre, where people can access information and solutions to prevent food loss.

Eng. Laban Kiplagat, Director at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, said that innovation and technology can help to improve data collection, monitoring and evaluation of food waste and loss.

He also said that digital platforms can facilitate partnerships and knowledge sharing among different stakeholders.

"By implementing the strategies we will be able to implement all those actions needed to address the complexity of food waste and loss and by addressing that we will ensure food security for all and contribute to the sustainable agenda for development," he said.

Kiplagat said that innovation and technology can also help to create new markets and opportunities for farmers and consumers.

He said that value addition, processing and packaging can increase the shelf life and quality of food products. He also said that mobile applications, e-commerce and online platforms can connect farmers with buyers and reduce intermediaries.

The International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste is observed every year on September 29 with the theme: Stop Food Loss and Waste: For the people.For the planet. For Wealth.

The day aims to raise awareness and inspire action to reduce food waste and loss, which can improve food security, nutrition, climate action and economic development.

"There is need to raise awareness on the issue of food loss and wastage and pull in more support and attention on the activities that happen post-production if we are to realize the returns on investment in the agricultural sector," said Ambassador Carla Mucavi, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Representative in Kenya.

The day was marked at University of Nairobi and was attended by the Vice Chancellor Prof. Kiama Gitahi.

FAO works closely with the private sector who play a key role in supporting implementation of key action areas through development of business cases around the solutions and contribute to job creation, especially for our youth and women.