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New model bags to cut post-harvest grain losses

The country losses an estimated 11 million bags of maize valued Sh33.5 billion annually despite five per cent of Kenya’s agriculture spend going into tackling post-harvest challenges.

This has put stakeholders from the sector on the spot even as they bank on an initiative by Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) to help maize farmers prevent between 20 to 30 per cent of post-harvest losses.

The council is supporting development of standards for hermetic storage technologies used in the local grain sector. The standards development process is divided into five phases taking 18 months and is expected to be up and running by June next year.

A trade policy analyst Kimwaga Mhando (Inset) said a survey carried out last year by the USAid-funded Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises (KAVES) indicates up to 1.5 million hermetic bags have been sold to small-scale farmers in the last three years.

Mhando was speaking during a stakeholders’ meeting in Nairobi. However, participants raised concern that the bags could be abused by unscrupulous traders due to their simplicity and cost effectiveness.

They said if unregulated, unscrupulous business people could dump substandard materials and pass them on as hermetic storage solutions undermining the efforts in handling post-harvest losses. Hermetic storage technologies work by denying pests oxygen within a storage device plastic polythene bags, sacks or cocoons leading to death through suffocation.

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