Thousands of smallholder farmers in Kenya cannot export their produce and sometimes it cannot be sold locally because of contamination, diseases and pests. According to Agriculture Principal Secretary Hamadi Boga, lack of good agricultural practices and improper handling of food is not only hindering numerous farmers from accessing the international market, but also leads to massive loss of food.
This is despite the fact that millions of Kenyans are food insecure. In a recent report, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said at least 14 per cent of all food around the world is lost before it can be retailed.
Food goes to waste despite food crisis
In Sub-Saharan Africa, food loss accounts for 14 per cent of the total food lost. In Kenya, 2.6 million people were experiencing food crisis in August after this year’s long rains failed in many regions. According to FAO, fruit and vegetable loss account for 21.6 per cent of the total food lost around the world while tubers, roots and oil-bearing crops loss is the highest, accounting for 25.3 per cent.
Speaking during the recent GlobalG. A. P event at Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation headquarters in Nairobi, Prof Boga said good agricultural practices, which include prevention of pests, proper packaging and handling of agricultural produce, are requisite if farmers need to export their produce and prevent food wastage.
The event brought together over 500 industry players in the crop sector dealing in production and export of fruits, vegetables, herbs, nuts and related sub-sectors. “Poor packaging brings about 30 per cent food loss,” said Prof Boga, adding that some of the most affected were tomatoes and potatoes. “Traders will have to raise their standards because they lose and the farmers also lose. They need good practices to improve the enterprise.”