Nairobi — Kenya’s agribusiness firm Goldenscape Group is set to break ground on its Sh150 million a food processing plant in Laikipia County.
The firm Chief Executive Peter Wangai says the plant is aimed at reducing food wastage in the county and increase farmers’ productivity.
The plant is looking at processing of tomatoes, vegetables and onions.
The plant is expected to employ over 300 people.
“The plant will be under Goldenscape Industries, we are currently waiting on NEMA approval to construct the plant, we are already in the process of shipping Machinery,” Wangai said.
Wangai says the processing plant will also be linking farmers directly to consumers removing the middle man who is taking advantage of the farmers.
The move comes even as statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that Kenya lost Sh150 billion worth of food in 2017 as farmers struggled with managing storing or transporting their goods to the market.
“It is estimated that 30 percent of food produced in Kenya is either lost or wasted. We need the private sector to come in and invest in industries,” Wangai explained.
Food loss refers to quantity and quality, in which the economic value of produce is degraded. Such food may even become unsuitable for human consumption.
“Food handling, including poor storage and sanitation, may also result in food losses. Food safety standards and practices have been put in place in Kenya but not all are feasible for adoption by small farmers and traders. More must be done to help people who fall into these groups if the country is serious about tackling food loss,” Wangai said.
Think Tank Firm – the conversation – In Sub-Saharan Africa, as much as 50pc of fruits and vegetables, 40pc of roots and tubers and 20pc of cereals, legumes and pulses are lost before they even hit the market. In recent years problems with food safety have also contributed to post-harvest losses.
“The Kenyan government is betting on the private sector to reduce post-harvest losses. This alone will not be effective since the private sector may not be able to adequately fill the knowledge gap when it comes to understanding the use and importance of these technologies among farmers. In addition, farmers with scarce resources may be excluded from using the technologies developed and distributed through the private sector,” the firm says in a report on Kenya.
Kenya’s fresh produce sector remained resilient amid political and economic uncertainties of 2017 to grow earnings by 11 percent to Sh115.25 billion.
The data released by the Fresh Produce Consortium Kenya showed flower exports was the largest earner contributing Sh82.24 billion up from Sh70.83 billion earned in 2016, representing 11.6 percent growth on export volume of 159,961 tonnes.
Fruits and vegetables earned Sh9 billion and Sh24 billion, on export volumes of 56,945 tonnes and 87,240 tonnes respectively.
Fresh Produce Consortium of Kenya Chief Executive Officer Okesegere Ojepat says despite the growth the sector continues to face challenges that include lack of traceability of system for the fresh produce, high cost of production, lack of extension services, poor information follow, brokers/middlemen menace, insufficient cooling facilities, weak compliance to food safety requirements, and taxation issues.
“We laud the resilience of the fresh produce sector in the eye of the political and economic storm witnessed in 2017 and we are happy with the performance. This is the similar resilience that enabled the sector weather the Brexit shock, pointing to the greater potential of the sector,” said Ojepat.