An estimated 1.3 billion tonnes or 30 per cent of food produced never reaches the table as it is lost or wasted along the supply chains, a conference heard on Tuesday.
Speaking during the launch of the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition on Tuesday, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Willy Bett said food wastage was a serious global issue, but more pronounced in Africa, and especially sub-Saharan Africa. He said an efficient, productive food system with minimal loss is needed.
“This is an issue that cannot be left only to the government to deal with. We need concerted efforts of all stakeholders to combat this menace of post-harvest loss and wastage, particularly during this time when we are faced with starvation and drought in the country,” said the CS.
Mr Bett added that the losses result in 15 per cent reduction in income for the millions of actors across the agriculture value chain, who are mostly small scale holders and who make up 80 per cent of Kenya’s production. He said there was need to introduce and embrace technologies aimed at reducing post-harvest losses and wastage.
“Technology does not mean anything if it lies in the universities or research institutions. It will mean much more if it is taken to farmers,” said the CS.
To solve the problem, Mr Bett said: “We are providing linkage between production and market for horticulture farmers. We are also fighting aflatoxin in cereals through technology and providing capacity building to farmers”.
The CS, however, called for more data to be collected to ascertain the losses suffered by farmers and also track the progress being made every year, saying that the government is encouraging the private sector to invest in agriculture by providing incentives such as waivers.
Mr Mamadou Biteye, managing director of Rockefeller Foundation Africa, echoed Mr Bett’s concerns, saying a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organisation The State of Food and Agriculture-2016 indicates that economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations — and the livelihoods of farmers — suffer when crops and food exports do not make it to market.
He added that a post-harvest management congress set to be held in Kenya as from March 28 this year, will provide an opportunity to respond to the calls for action outlined in the SDGs and the Malabo Declaration (2014).