Control of food wastes and losses from production, processing, at point of sales and consumption can boost the incomes and savings of both the farmers and individual households, Donutus Njoroge, a researcher at Mount Kenya University (MKU) has said.
He said that overcome hunger in Kenya, there is a need to assess the approaches and policies that can help to avert the food wastes problem from the farms, industries, households and supermarkets.
Reports from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) points out a grim situation that 1/3 of the food meant for human use goes to waste or are lost at a time that globally countries are working towards the achievement of a zero-hunger safe world for every individual.
The loses and wastes are attributed to lack of proper packaging, improper handling techniques, poor storage of perishable milk, pulses, legumes, cereals, roots, tubers vegetables and fruits.
He lamented that despite farming being a backbone of the Kenyan economy and which largely depends more on rains, at harvest period, the poor road infrastructure continues to contribute raw produce losses while being transported from the rural areas to reach the market for the consumers.
“There is a need of an integral approach from the country scientists, scholars, farmers, policymakers and investors to adopt innovative ways to reduce the food wastage and losses in the value chain for long term consumption and food production,” he said.
He added that “With an increased population and scarcity of resources, food security and sustainable development can be attained from the individual consumers.”
Going forward, Njoroge cited that the buyers of foods ought to be encouraged with incentives to change their wastage behaviour at eateries and not buy excess food that will go to waste.
“As the world grapples with climatic conditions problems, any amount of food harvested from the farm, sold at supermarkets and bought in households is of value and should be protected to avoid spoilage as its presence contributes to improved food security and can save a life of a hungry person,” he added.
“Where are we as a country four years after the 2014 Malabo declaration on Africa Enhanced Agricultural Growth and Transformation? According to the 2018 Economic Survey 2018, Kenya continues to experience losses as a result of poor storage, handling and rejection,” wondered Njoroge.
He said that the most affected produce includes millet, sorghum, bananas, tomatoes, beans, Irish potatoes and sweet potatoes.
He lamented that maize; the counties staple food has been affected by aflatoxin hence as a stop-gap measure the government subsidized the product through importation.
To curb aflatoxin, he recommended introduction of hermetically- sealed bags to prevent moisture, insects and rodents from attack.
Among other measures stipulated by Njoroge are improved post-harvest technologies, enhanced storage facilities and strategic food reserves by partnering with the private sector investors.