NAIROBI – In an effort to combat post-harvest losses in Kenya, agricultural experts are advocating for innovative, climate-smart, and gender-responsive solutions. These strategies are aimed at addressing losses in key sectors such as grain, dairy, and horticulture.
According to Kenya News Agency, Livestock Development Principal Secretary (PS) Jonathan Mueke, speaking at the launch of the AgriHack initiative in a Nairobi hotel, highlighted the challenges faced by Kenyan farmers due to post-harvest losses. These losses, occurring between harvest and consumption, are often caused by factors like pests, diseases, improper handling, and inadequate storage and transportation facilities. Mueke pointed out that these losses not only affect food security but also lead to substantial financial setbacks for farmers and others in the food supply chain. According to studies, Kenyan farmers face 20% to 40% losses of their produce, equating to financial losses of up to US$ 500 million.
Mueke emphasized the particular challenges in rural areas, such as poor transportation infrastructure, which complicates the collection and transport of milk, cereals, and horticultural produce from smallholder farmers to processing centers. The government’s response involves educating farmers, developing infrastructure, improving market access, controlling pests and diseases, promoting value addition, and implementing supportive policies and regulations.
The ministry is also focusing on mitigating the impact of post-harvest losses to make agricultural benefits more accessible and to address issues like unemployment and aging farmer populations. Mueke noted that more than 2.9 million Kenyans are unemployed, and the youth are often reluctant to pursue careers in farming. In response, the ministry is committed to transforming agriculture into a sector that is appealing and profitable for the younger generation, aiming to make it ‘cool’ and attractive.
In the livestock sector, the government has begun developing a Livestock Master Plan (LMP) to provide accurate data and information on livestock resources and investment opportunities. As part of this initiative, the Ministry has installed 350 milk coolers across the country, with an additional 200 expected by 2027. For grain, dryers are set to be installed in various parts of the country to address post-harvest losses.
Furthermore, the National Government, in partnership with the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry, county governments, the private sector, development partners, and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), has embarked on establishing County Aggregation and Industrial Parks (CAIP) in each county. The main goal of these CAIPs is to foster manufacturing and investments through agro-industries and enhance the productivity of the agricultural sector sustainably.
Mueke concluded by asserting that these government initiatives are geared towards confronting the issue of post-harvest losses directly, contributing significantly to the welfare of farmers and national food security.