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Post-harvest technologies help Kenyan farmers reduce yields loss

by Robert Manyara NAKURU (Xinhua) -- Growing need among the Kenyan farmers to eliminate post-harvest losses has encouraged agro-entrepreneurs to invest in innovations solving their problems.

Kabazi Jua Kali Youth Group based in southwest Kenya’s Nakuru county is one of them making mobile metal silos from stainless iron sheets.

"Small small scale farmers can store their produce in the metal silo for a long time without worry of rats or weevils," Joseph Munene, chairman of the group said Saturday.

Growers and traders of cereals and pulses such as maize, wheat, rice, soybeans, millet, sorghum and beans have the advantage of using the equipment either at home or at the market place, he said.

"Farmers who use sacks loose huge quantities of the harvest when they are moving from the farm to the market. The metal silo is not vulnerable to tear which is why it serves well as a carrier of produce. It also protects the yield from dampness," he added.

Members of the group are among those who have been trained on post-harvest technologies by the Agricultural Training Centre under Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.

Scientists and food production specialists from the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) have also educated them on efficiency on post-harvest innovations.

Ordinarily, rural farmers apply chemicals for killing pests on their produce before storing them in sacks. But they are prone to dampness and tear from rats unless kept in dry place and free from reach of pests.

The mobile metal silo is compact with no room for entry of the pests. It has an entry for filling the harvest once ready for store and an exit for fetching the produce for use. Both are covered with well-fitting lids.

"A farmer does not need to mix any chemicals with the maize before storing them in the metal silo," explained Munene.

Farmers also have an option of the AgroZ bag made in Tanzania and distributed in Kenya by Transglobal Limited.

Billduke Ontita, Sales Manager at Transglobal Limited, says the multilayer bag offers farmers a cheap solution to ending loss of harvests to weevils, the troublesome pest which can destroy a whole stock in a few days.

Equally, a farmer is saved from expenses of fumigating the produce or dusting it with chemicals.

"The bag has an inner liner which is thick and strong because it’s made of multiple layers of polyethylene and is covered with a woven polypropylene sack. The technology behind it has been proven to be effective and efficient," said Ontita.

The bag is gastight, thereby depriving pests oxygen for any metabolic activities destructive to the stored harvest, he said.

Although suitable for storing pulses and cereals, farmers must ensure they are dried to a 13.5 percent moisture content to avoid rotting and developing harmful aflatoxin.

Post-harvest losses are a major agricultural concern among small scale farmers in the African countries as indicated by various reports.

Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which conducts studies on food production in Africa and analyses state of food security in developing countries, identifies loss of yields after harvest a key threat to sustainable agricultural growth.

It indicates that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the yields are lost due to poor post-harvest management activities, directly influencing hunger, malnutrition and poverty among the rural small holder farmers.

             

 

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