State bets on new pest-proof storage bags to reduce maize wastage - Daily Nation

State bets on new pest-proof storage bags to reduce maize wastage

Wednesday November 23 2016

Agriculture secretary Willy Bett. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU

Agriculture secretary Willy Bett. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU 

By GERALD ANDAE, [email protected]

Grain farmers will benefit from new storage bags, which do not require the use of insecticides to prevent weevils and other pests’ invasion that have for years seen millions of bags of the produce go to wastage.

The hermetic bags can store maize, beans and wheat for two years, making them disease and pest free for a longer time. This comes as a boost to Kenya’s food security.

The new bags were launched Wednesday after years of trials to test their efficiency before being rolling out to farmers countrywide.

It is estimated that over three million bags of maize will be saved from going to waste once farmers adopt the new technology.

“These bags are going to play a major role in curbing food wastage that results from post-harvest losses. It is a major step towards improving food security,” Agriculture secretary Willy Bett said during the launch.

The minister said the strategy for increasing food availability to feed the growing population is to ensure proper and better utilisation of food that is already produced.

“In this respect, reduction of post-harvest loss is an important strategy to ensure food and nutritional security and improve farmers income in a sustainable manner,” he said.   

The representative of manufacturers Bhubhinder Singh urged the government to abolish the 16 per cent duty charged on the bags to enable small-scale farmers to acquire them with ease. 

“The cost of these bags is high because of the 16 per cent Value Added Tax. The government should remove this duty to enable small-scale holders to afford them,” said Mr Singh.

The Ministry of Agriculture through the Crop Management and Post-Harvest Unit, in collaboration with USAid-KAVES, Bell Industries, GrainPro Inc, Elite Innovations, Vestergaard and Agro-Z, have united to roll out the adoption of bags in the country.