The government needs to assist farmers to enhance agro-processing and value addition of their products in order to boost exports and increase industries.
The Chairman of South Rift Farmers’ Association, Justus Monda said doing so would reduce the high rate of unemployment in the country, adding that all developed countries have leveraged on the availability of natural resources to boost manufacturing.
“Since agriculture was the backbone of the economy, there is need to augment the farmers’ earnings by aiding the processing of their produce,” Monda noted.
He said even without the support of the government, majority of the exports are agricultural products such as flowers and tea, thus the need to expand and include other products such as tomatoes, vegetables and even potatoes. He was addressing a press conference in Nakuru.
He lamented that the industrial area of Nakuru, just like in many other towns was virtually dormant and yet post-harvest losses amount to 25 to 30 per cent leading to loss of billions of shillings.
He said data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics last year showed that farmers lost produce worth sh.150 billion due to challenges in managing, storing and transportation of the produce to the market.
He said it was unfortunate that every harvest season of various crops, farmers helplessly watch as their food rot. “However, if they are aided with value addition machines, to enable them process it during glut, the food would be made available off-season,” Monda stressed.
Monda urged the government to implement policies with the primary objective of boosting export of processed agricultural products which will in turn enhance farmers’ earnings.
He added that the advice for farmers to produce their products offseason wasn’t practical because 80 per cent of them were small scale and relied on rain-fed agriculture.
By Veronica Bosibori