New measures to tackle post harvest losses announced

By Caroline Njenga

The government has assured Kenyans that there is enough food stocks in the country hence no cause for alarm.

The cabinet notes that Kenya has 619,000 metric tons of maize with 33 million bags of maize expected to be harvested by the end of this year.

Over the last two months, reports been rife that Kenya could be facing a food shortage occasioned by a poor harvest last year.

A week ago, Agriculture Cabinet Secretary Felix Koskei said that the government would import 200,000 metric tons of maize from Tanzania.

The government further resolved to urgently address the issue of post-harvest losses that total about 1.3 million bags.

The cabinet called on Kenyans to diversify their eating habits and preferences noting that Ugali is not the only source of starch.

To encourage Kenyans to shift their attention to other traditional foods, such as sorghum, millet, cassava, bananas and potatoes, the cabinet said these crops would get increased budgetary allocation in future.

To help farmers market their crops with ease, the cabinet approved establishment of a legal framework for Warehousing Receipt System Bill in Kenya which seeks to entrench and legalize structural agricultural commodity trading system in the cereals and grain sub-sectors.

The bill once implemented will seek to also reduce post-harvest losses estimated at 10% of total produce and optimize utilization of Kenya’s storage capacity in government and private sector.

The Warehousing Receipt System Bill is also expected to improve access and help farmers cash their produce with ease.

This is expected to be more robust after development of commodity exchange platform.

The cabinet further directed Government Departments including Counties to buy Kenyan products and services noting that they should only resort to buying foreign goods and services if they are not available or cannot be produced in Kenya.

Ministries were encouraged to challenge local firms and entrepreneurs to improve competitiveness and the standards of their products instead of dismissing them at the first instant.