The Nakuru County Chairman for the Kenya National Farmers’ Federation (KENAFF), Luke Kessei, has appealed to the county governments to improve infrastructure in rural areas, reduce post-harvest losses and increase budgetary allocation for the all-important sector.
He said, in the recent past, the sector has been beset by unique problems such as poor rainfalls, increased postharvest losses, and pest attacks that require scientific solutions that are beyond the majority of the farmers.
Speaking Thursday during a press conference at the KENAFF offices, Kessei said local farmers incur substantive losses due to poor and non-existent postharvest handling and storage facilities, particularly for horticulture produce such as fruits, vegetables and other green products.
He noted that even the cereal farmers incur up to 30 per cent losses because the majority of them cannot afford the cost of transportation and storage of grains at the Cereals and Produce Board that charge seventeen shillings per month per 90kg bag.
Even so, he said the cereals require electronic drying that only handles 790 kg per volume. And, anything less can’t be accepted by the already set drying machines, that are only responsive to large-scale farmers.
He urged the government to support the private sector to establish a national network of post-harvest handling and storage technologies and facilities since government agencies don’t have the capacity of managing such competence across the country.
Additionally, he said that if the 30 per cent post-harvest losses are appropriately managed and reduced gradually, the arid-and semi-arid areas were likely to benefit.
He commended the government for the subsidized fertilizer, which has reduced prices from Sh6000 to Sh3000 per 90kg bag, adding that it was likely to improve the depressed maize harvest in the entire country.
By Wambui Muniu and Veronica Bosibori