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COLD STORAGE FACILITIES; CURBING POST-HARVEST LOSSES IN THE POTATO AND BANANA VALUE CHAINS

Growth trends in banana and potato value chains are evident as local production hit 1.86 million tonnes and 2 million tonnes for bananas and potatoes respectively in 2020. In addition, there are up to 800,000 farmers, another 2.5 million people working in the potato value chain while over 500,000 farmers are involved in banana production.

The two crops have undoubtedly become primary sources of food, playing a critical role in alleviating food shortages in the context of the decreasing production of maize and other staples. The foods are also a major source of revenue for the country as production has gradually moved from subsistence to cash crop farming owing to the demand and the ability of the crops to transition to more market-based food systems, making both fresh and processed value-added products such as crisps, wine and jam.

On the national scale, Kisii, Meru and Nyandarua counties are ranked first in banana and potato production. Data from Statista shows that the area under banana cultivation in Kisii county is slightly above 6,350ha, with an average production of 359,600 tonnes of bananas annually. Meru produces 127, 575 tonnes of bananas annually on 8,505 acres and this is set to increase as more people take up banana farming. Between 33 to 35 per cent of the nation’s total potato yield which amounts to 600,000 metric tonnes is produced in Nyandarua county each season. Meru comes in second with a production of 196,434 tonnes.

However, according to the National Potato Council of Kenya, 19 per cent of potato produce is damaged or lost every harvesting season. Extrapolating these losses to the national production level, 815,000 tonnes are damaged or lost each year, representing a value of around KES 12.9 billion (107 million dollars). Post-harvest losses in the banana value chain are estimated by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture to be more than 50 per cent due to poor storage and handling.

Under a Presidential Directive, the Micro and Small Enterprises Authority was given Kes. 300 million to build three cold storage facilities in the counties of Nyandarua, Meru, and Kisii. Over 5,000 farmers involved in the potato and banana value chains in the area will benefit from the cold storage facilities’ promotion of post-harvest management, value addition, and price stabilization. In addition to ensuring year-round crop availability, this will allow for the storage of excess produce, minimising the losses of perishable goods to the farmers from late sales. Additionally, this will improve the quantity and quality of the produce.

The primary construction for the three facilities is complete, and the refrigerating equipment is presently being shipped. After completion, the Authority will embark on operationalizing these facilities.

Ol-Kalou Cold Storage Facility  

Kiamokama Cold Storage Facility

Timau Cold Storage Facility