The Nyeri County government will build a Sh6 million store in Kieni as it seeks to cushion potato and onion farmers against post-harvest losses.
The store will provide an information centre and proper storage areas which will prolong the shelf life of the harvest by four to six months and also maintain consistence in quality.
According to the Agriculture Executive Henry Kinyua, farmers lose up to 40 percent of their total produce in post-harvest losses.
“Our analysis indicates that prices of onions and potatoes increase three times in two to three months after harvesting,” he said.
He said farmers will also be able to bulk the commodity and hence improve their bargaining power for better prices.
It is estimated that the county produces 556,000 bags of potatoes.
He said with the store, the farmers will be able to take their produce to the markets at the right time for better prices hence increase their income.
The Sh6 million store is factored in the supplementary budget waiting for approval by the county assembly of Nyeri.
“This is just the beginning in the supplementary budget. In the next financial year we plan to support the establishment of produce market handling and storage facilities in all the production areas in the county,” explained Mr Kinyua.
Currently, farmers sell their produce immediately after harvest which coincides with a period when other neighbouring counties are harvesting, leading to low prices.
Storage of onions will ensure they are properly dried and are suitable for the market.
Market traders in Nyeri are importing onions from Tanzania despite the county being a high producer of the commodity because Tanzanian onions are drier.
The store will be managed by the farmers who have been advised to form commercial villages.
In the long term, the facilities are projected to help increase food security, improve livelihoods of the farmers, wealth and employment creation and sustainable production of the commodities.
“Additionally, there will be improved revenue generation to the county through cess collection as well as improved youth engagement within the two value chains,” said Mr Kinyua.
The agriculture executive said building of the store is a matter of urgency and work will begin immediately the supplementary budget is approved and funds provided as per the procurement procedures.
“If the funds are [provided] on time, we expect to complete the construction by the end of this financial year,” he said.