Kenya has taken steps to manage post-harvest loss with hermetic bags, and silos to safeguard food from pests and environmental damage.

While storage is critical, it is only a microcosm of the technical and economic interventions required.

Besides storage, post-harvest activities also include harvesting, threshing, cleaning, drying, processing, transporting and marketing.

Technical interventions revolve around automation to eliminate waste due to human handling and processing, maintain food quality, limit loss to mold, pests, and bad weather, and free up labour to boost productivity.

It also reduces succession cropping, where farmers sacrifice one crop for another in a rush to keep up with changing weather patterns.

Mechanisation is also vital to preserve perishable foods. Economic interventions are the next logical step to link farmers to markets and industry.

This ensures that farmers are knowledgeable on technologies, climate, seed quality, energy use, grain science, pest control, nutritional qualities, and have access to credit and market information.

Information enables influencing of consumer and retailer behaviour to eliminate wastage due to aesthetics, and to educate consumers on drought-resilient food options.

PRICE RISK

The final intervention is creating markets that give the best commercial value.

The practice of collecting grain centrally means that most farmers sell to government at low prices.

But government handling facilities lack the capacity to absorb all the harvest. Limiting loss requires farmers to invest in storage.

Enabling them to diversify their price risk, boosts income, enhances their capacity and willingness to invest in other technologies, and on the farm. Ultimately, these efficiencies reduce food loss, and promote food security.

Ms Kaaria is a sustainability strategist; [email protected]; Twitter: @kkaaria

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