by Robert Manyara NAKURU
(Xinhua) -- Growing need among the Kenyan
farmers to eliminate post-harvest losses has encouraged
agro-entrepreneurs to invest in innovations solving their problems.
Kabazi Jua Kali Youth Group based in southwest Kenya’s Nakuru county
is one of them making mobile metal silos from stainless iron sheets.
"Small small scale farmers can store their produce in the metal
silo for a long time without worry of rats or weevils," Joseph
Munene, chairman of the group said Saturday.
Growers and traders of cereals and pulses such as maize, wheat,
rice, soybeans, millet, sorghum and beans have the advantage of
using the equipment either at home or at the market place, he said.
"Farmers who use sacks loose huge quantities of the harvest when
they are moving from the farm to the market. The metal silo is not
vulnerable to tear which is why it serves well as a carrier of
produce. It also protects the yield from dampness," he added.
Members of the group are among those who have been trained on
post-harvest technologies by the Agricultural Training Centre under
Kenya’s Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries.
Scientists and food production specialists from the Kenya
Agriculture and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO) have also
educated them on efficiency on post-harvest innovations.
Ordinarily, rural farmers apply chemicals for killing pests on
their produce before storing them in sacks. But they are prone to
dampness and tear from rats unless kept in dry place and free from
reach of pests.
The mobile metal silo is compact with no room for entry of the
pests. It has an entry for filling the harvest once ready for store
and an exit for fetching the produce for use. Both are covered with
"A farmer does not need to mix any chemicals with the maize
before storing them in the metal silo," explained Munene.
Farmers also have an option of the AgroZ bag made in Tanzania and
distributed in Kenya by Transglobal Limited.
Billduke Ontita, Sales Manager at Transglobal Limited, says the
multilayer bag offers farmers a cheap solution to ending loss of
harvests to weevils, the troublesome pest which can destroy a whole
stock in a few days.
Equally, a farmer is saved from expenses of fumigating the
produce or dusting it with chemicals.
"The bag has an inner liner which is thick and strong because
it’s made of multiple layers of polyethylene and is covered with a
woven polypropylene sack. The technology behind it has been proven
to be effective and efficient," said Ontita.
The bag is gastight, thereby depriving pests oxygen for any
metabolic activities destructive to the stored harvest, he said.
Although suitable for storing pulses and cereals, farmers must
ensure they are dried to a 13.5 percent moisture content to avoid
rotting and developing harmful aflatoxin.
Post-harvest losses are a major agricultural concern among small
scale farmers in the African countries as indicated by various
Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), which conducts studies
on food production in Africa and analyses state of food security in
developing countries, identifies loss of yields after harvest a key
threat to sustainable agricultural growth.
It indicates that between 30 percent and 40 percent of the yields
are lost due to poor post-harvest management activities, directly
influencing hunger, malnutrition and poverty among the rural small