Technology to improve post-harvest losses

The government has put in place strategies to increase food production and productivity to ensure 100 percent food security for all Kenyans.

Head of Plant Protection Services at the Ministry of Agriculture, David Mwangi said the strategies were also meant to guarantee food surplus for export by 2020.

Mwangi cited efforts to address post-harvest losses and minimum loss during storage, through proper and better use of produce, as some of the most important strategies to increase food availability to the ever-increasing population.

He was speaking Monday, during Purdue Improved Crop Storage (PICS) supply chain workshop in Nairobi.

Mwangi said one third, which is 30 percent of the food produced for human consumption, is lost or wasted along the supply chains globally, which is about 1.3 billion metric tonnes of the total volume of the food produced.

In Kenya, he said, the current overall post-harvest loss stands at about 10 to 30 percent, depending on the crop, with that of cereals estimated at 10 percent.

For maize alone, with an average annual production figure of 40 million bags (90kgs), the loss amounts to 4million bags, with an estimated value of about Sh.12 billion, he explained.

Mwangi said this huge loss could be reduced through appropriate modern technologies, mainly during storage, as it will allow farmers to reap the benefit of improved prices, which were normally depressed during harvesting period.

Interventions that reduce post-harvest losses are thus important and necessary to improve greatly the livelihoods of small hold farmers who are the majority, he said.

He named appropriate technologies, such as hermetic technologies, that protect grain from insects’ damage without using chemicals which small hold farmers can use in storage of grains, for up to two years without infestation.

Use of hermetically sealed bags and metallic or plastic silos can protect stored grains from pests, rodents, birds and fungi and allow grains to be kept for long periods with no appreciable loss of quality, he said.

As we roll out 100 percent food security as part of the big four agenda, we are recommending some kind of subsidy as an incentive to farmers in the post-harvest technology to reduce the hermitic bags prices which stands at Kshs250 and Ksh300 currently.

Mwangi emphasized that appropriate post-harvest technologies are the only ones that can offer a pathway out of poverty through reduced losses, but for this to happen, the public and the private sectors need to work together to support both large and smallholder farmers.

He further said the meeting will assess what was happening on the ground, what is working and if there was need to scale it up.

Source: Kenya News Agency