Government working towards post- harvest losses

Kenya is losing between 15% and 30% of the total harvested crop annually to poor post-harvest, Crops Principal Secretary Dr. Richard Lesiyampe has said.

Consequently, Dr. Lesiyampe said measures were being put in place to establish interventions to address the losses.

Speaking yesterday during a regional workshop on plans to reduce post-harvest losses, Dr. Lesiyampe said the government was taking the matter very seriously to ensure the losses were reduced to between 10% and 5% adding that this will ensure food security.

Dr. Lesiyampe added that although the country has managed to regulate and put in place policies, concerted efforts were required from farmers, county governments, institutions of higher learning and partners on best and appropriate technology to reduce the post-harvest losses.

The average post-harvest loss in cereals is estimated at 10 percent, fruits at 11.2 percent and vegetables at 7.85 percent affecting food availability, incomes, raw materials and job opportunities for Kenyans.

Currently in some parts of the country and in particular Rumuruti area in Laikipia, we are losing tomatoes due to post harvest loss and in the past we have also lost potatoes in areas of Nyandarua, Nakuru and Narok areas, he explained.

He added that market dynamics was another challenge that the tomato farmers are experiencing due to lack infrastructure, roads and even local market.

Dr. Lesiyampe said the government has so far acquired three potato drying equipment in Murungaru, Engineer area in Nyandarua and recently in Narok but noted these so far are not enough.

We need to invest in driers for all our cereals and even as we attempt to do these, we also have a challenge where some farmers are not drying their cereals or taking them for drying saying they have a challenge of proximity, the PS said.

In order to manage the post-harvest management, Dr. Lesiyampe noted that the government is putting in more resources to buy more driers in silos and also get mobile driers.

Dr. Lesiyampe said the government was reviewing what the country has done for several years and will yield results from a pilot project that involves Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe who are working on development of policies and strategies for country specific plans to reduce post-harvest losses that is being supported by FAO.

Through sharing of information since we all have similar challenges in the same value chain, we will be coming up with empirical facts and solutions and clear interventions we need to make to address the losses, the PS said.

The government, he said is building capacity for farmers on how to manage post-harvest losses, creating awareness and through the international community such as AU, FAO, Rockefeller supporting scientists on coming up with appropriate methodologies.

Piers Simpkin, Senior Programme Co-ordinator at FAO said so much food is going to waste globally and in Africa and Kenya in particular due to transport and market constraints.

Kenya produces a lot of food but it needs to get the balance right, between what can be produced, what is needed and how products get to market in time’, he said

Simpkin explained the global post-harvest losses which stand at 30 percent could feed an extra 1.2 billion people and address SDG 1 and 2 on Hunger and Poverty

Countries are required to coordinate and it is their responsibility to not only address food production but know where food ends up and what condition it reaches the market, he insisted.

For Kenya, he called upon Counties to take responsibility and make sure standards are met by the farmers adding that even as Africa looks into the future, focus should be on implementing robust post-harvest interventions.

Associate Director of the Rockefeller foundation Africa Regional office Betty Kibaara said one third of the world’s available food never makes it from farm to table thus enabling policies have the ability to scaling up successes of post-harvest losses .

She noted that Rockefeller has trained over 135,000 farmers in Africa on Post-harvest losses while over 160,000 small holder farmers have accessed various post-harvest reducing technologies.

The 2014 Malabo Declaration called on the African Union member states to reduce current levels of post-harvest losses by 50 percent by the year 2025.

Source: Kenya News Agency