Data released by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), shows that many farmers lost substantial earnings that led to food wastage worth 150 billion shillings in 2017.
Due to challenges with managing, storing, and transporting their products to the market, farmers helplessly watched as the food went to waste through rotting, as others were forced to toss them out.
More than 1.9 million tons of food was lost by the growers. Sadly, some parts of the country and citizens across various counties are starving due to drought.
The hardest hit were maize farmers with the produce being affected by aflatoxin. The post-harvest wastage, according to the report, amounted to 29.6 billion shillings with the reason attributed to poor management and rodents. The number of bags affected by the toxins was approximately 6 million bags.
Somehow, the government contributed to the wastage indirectly when it imported maize worth 42 billion, using foreign aid to buy the products it could have easily produced.
Weevil invasion also contributed to the waste not to mention the damage it caused tons of green bananas. Farmers forego more than 24 billion in a year as a result. This comes at a time when the food security state in Kenya took a 10-year low dip.
The Economic Survey released late April 2018 showed that Irish potatoes suffered a loss of 19.7 billion, milk, 12.4 billion, beans 11.5 billion, bananas 5.6 billion, sweet potatoes 3.5 billion, tomatoes 2.4 billion, pineapples 2.4 billion, sorghum 1.9 billion, and millet 1.6 billion shillings.
Better measures need be implemented by the state to ensure favorable food security. The country, apparently, is losing approximately a third of the produce to food wastage by consumers who buy more than they need, and other post-harvest losses.
The estimation by the government puts post-harvest losses at 20 percent. Although the government is hoping to cut these losses to 15 percent by the year 2022 as part of its Big Four Agenda, many are left to wonder if the goal will be achieved.
Meanwhile, as the rains continue pounding many parts of the country, mangoes, tomatoes, and other produce continue to rot as other Kenyans sleep with empty stomachs. How ironical!