KENYA – Farmers in Nakuru County, one of the major maize growing areas in Kenya, are poised for better days following the commissioning of two warehouses with grain drying and storage capabilities.
According to a report by the Kenya News Agency, the facilities are the brainchild of the Kenya Cereal Enhancement Programme Climate-Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods (KCEP-CRAL) program.
The KCEP-CRAL program is funded by the Swedish development agency SIDA through the Food Agricultural Organization (FAO), the European Union (EU), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
The initiative aims to reduce rural poverty and food insecurity among smallholders in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands by developing their economic potential
According to FAO, post-harvest losses have been estimated at 20–30% of the total staple maize harvested valued at approximately US$4 billion annually.
In addition, the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics Economic Survey of 2018 revealed that farmers lost KES26.9bn worth of maize produce to post-harvest losses during the year’s season.
The celebrated move comes as a God send to hundreds of farmers in Mauche and Elburgon wards in Nakuru County have been unable to properly dry their grains and have been battling issues with aflatoxin for decades, leading to high losses every season
The completed warehouses, therefore, are envisioned to benefit Mauka and Mwireri cooperative societies, which will be delivering their grains for drying and storage before selling them at the market.
Mr. Leonard Bor, the County Executive Committee Member (CECM) in charge of Agriculture revealed that the project is in line with the county’s policies and budget to ensure food and nutrition security and build resilience against climate change shocks.
Mr. Bor added that in the quest to navigate climate shocks, the County’s target is to increase the acreage under irrigation from the current 1000 hectares to 2500 hectares to reduce reliance on rain-fed agriculture.
“Only 17 percent (0.986 million hectares) of agricultural land in Kenya can be sustained by rain annually. To produce optimally in the other remaining 83 percent (4.81 million hectares), irrigation must be carried out,” he stressed.
He assured residents that the County government will continue collaborating with other public and private sector partners to ensure farmers access crop varieties that are resilient to drought.
The government of Kenya is diversifying ways to increase its local grain production following the acute shortage that the county has faced owing to the worst drought in years.
The country has already opened a window for private investors to its multi-billion project Galana Kulalu to spur up production as well as sign a memorandum of understanding with Zambia to negotiate a grain deal with the Southern African country.