Agricultural experts have called for the development of innovative, climate smart, and gender-responsive solutions to reduce Post harvest losses in grain, dairy, and horticulture. Livestock Development Principal Secretary (PS) Jonathan Mueke, speaking at a Nairobi hotel during the launch of AgriHack initiative, said that post-harvest losses occur in the space between harvest and consumption and can be caused by various factors such as pests, diseases, improper handling and lack of appropriate storage and transportation facilities. Mueke emphasised that these losses have significant economic and food security implications, reducing the availability of food for consumption and leading to financial losses for farmers and other stakeholders in the food supply chain. ‘According to studies, Kenyan farmers are losing between 20% and 40% of their hard-earned produce due to post-harvest losses representing financial losses of up to US$ 500 million,’ he said. The PS emphasised that in the rural areas of Kenya, there is lack of good transportation infrastructure, which makes it challenging to collect and transport milk, cereals and horticultural produce from smallholder farmers to processing centres. ‘The government is working to educate farmers, develop infrastructure, improve market access, control pests and diseases, encourage value addition, and enact policies and regulations that support the sector,’ he said. Mueke voiced that by collaborating with stakeholders, the ministry aims to mitigate the negative impact of post-harvest losses, ensuring that the benefits of agriculture are accessible to all, adding that these losses not only impact the livelihoods of our aging farmers, but also exacerbate unemployment in Kenya. ‘More than 2.9 million Kenyans are currently unemployed, and our youth, who urgently need jobs, are often disinclined to pursue careers in farming. To combat this trend, as a ministry, we pledge to transform agriculture into an appealing and profitable sector for our younger generation. We aim to make agriculture ‘cool’ and attractive to the youth,’ said the PS. Mueke said that in the Livestock sector, the government commenced the development of a Livestock Master Plan (LMP) that will provide accurate data and information on livestock resources and the available investment options based on competitive advantages. ‘The Ministry has already acquired and installed 350 milk coolers across the country and another 200 are expected to be installed by 2027. For grain, dryers are expected to be installed in different parts of this country as a measure to address post-harvest losses,’ said Mueke. The PS noted that the National Government through the Ministry of Investment, Trade and Industry and County Governments in partnership with private sector, development partners and United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) has embarked on establishing County Aggregation and Industrial Parks (CAIP) in each County. He added that the main objective of CAIP’s is to grow manufacturing and investments through Agro-Industries and enhance productivity of the agriculture sector in a sustainable manner. ‘All these initiatives of the government are set to address the issue of post-harvest losses head-on, and contribute to both the welfare of farmers and the overall food security of the nation,’ said Mueke.
Source: Kenya News Agency