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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

Researchers urge Kenya to curb post-
harvest losses to contain hunger

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya must scale up investments in modern storage facilities, efficient transport systems and farmers’ education in order to reduce post-harvest loss of maize estimated at 12 to 20 percent of national production, researchers said in a report released in Nairobi on Monday.

Researchers from agriculture think-tank Tegemeo Institute noted that Kenya has one of the highest levels of post-harvest losses of maize in the region that has undermined the country’s efforts to feed a growing population.

“Post-harvest losses are a major contributor to food inadequacy and must therefore be effectively addressed as a strategy to achieve the much desired state of food security,” said the researchers.

Kenya loses an average of 6 million out of 40 million 90 kilograms of maize produced in the country annually due to lack of modern storage facilities as well climatic shocks.

“The losses mainly include spillages during handling, transportation, processing and marketing; rotting and aflatoxin contamination,” read the report.

It decried huge post-harvest losses of maize in Kenya due to attacks by pests, rodents and mechanical damage during farm level elementary processing alongside off-farm value addition.

Researchers said this post-harvest maize loss could be enough to meet one month’s consumption demand of the key staple in the country.

Climate change has emerged as a leading cause of huge post-harvest losses of maize in Kenya. Researchers from Tegemeo Institute noted that Kenya’s breadbaskets have grappled with a huge burden of post-harvest maize loss due to extreme weather events.

“The changing climatic patterns have altered the maize harvesting period conditions in most parts of Kenya’s grain basket with harvesting coinciding with rains or humid conditions in October-November-December,” said the researchers.

These conditions not only hinder proper grain drying but also provide conducive conditions for grain pests and disease build-up,” they added.

Kenya can apply globally recognized best practices that include appropriate technologies, improved crop husbandry and farmer education to cut down on post-harvest loss of maize.

Researchers said that better policies coupled with deployment of modern storage facilities like metal or plastic silos; proper drying and grain treatment will drastically reduce post-harvest loss of maize in the country.

             

 

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