KENYA – Farm Africa, a UK-based charitable organization is undertaking the establishment of a solar-powered vegetable pack house in Trans Nzoia County, West of Kenya.
The pack house, according to Farm Africa is aimed to enable smallholder farmers to reduce post-harvest losses and guarantee freshness of their horticultural produce for both the domestic and export market.
In addition, it will increase packaging efficiency and reduce the transport costs incurred by export buyers delivering fresh produce to the capital of Kenya, Nairobi.
Other than the employment opportunities that will be created by the center to the local community, the farmers will also be able to use the premises to pack grade two produce for the local market.
“The pack house will help transform the local agricultural community, providing an affordable and sustainable way to protect local farmers’ produce that simply wasn’t available before.”Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK – Luke Peech
It features vegetable cooling systems, irrigation kits, ventilators, water pumps and around the clock surveillance cameras to ensure smooth operations.
The construction of the pack house has been made possible by a two-year funding extension by retailer Aldi UK to support Farm Africa’s Growing Futures market initiative.
The initiative supports young farmers in rural western Kenya to build resilience to climate change and improve the quality of their fresh produce destined for both export and domestic markets.
“We are happy to kick off the construction of this pack house in Trans Nzoia County. We have witnessed a high level of production among the smallholders taking part in the Growing Futures initiative.
“This facility will go a long way in helping the farmers to capitalise on these gains by improving the quality of their produce and driving up the prices received for their produce,’ said Mary Nyale, Kenya Programmes Manager for Farm Africa.
After competition, the facility will be handed over to Pamoja Twaweza community-based organisation (CBO), which will be in charge of it.
Other than construction of the pack house, Farm Africa will support the CBO in areas such as market and financial linkages as well as providing market information and promoting collective marketing so as to improve the community’s bargaining power.
The Growing Futures initiative provides the skills needed to improve production of high value crops and linkages to commercial buyers and financial platforms.
The smallholders are also trained in multiple value chains in vegetable farming to enhance income diversification.
With climate change affecting the frequency of rain, the market initiative is training farmers on the use of solar powered water pumps as opposed to using petrol or diesel-powered pumps to irrigate their farms so that they can cut costs, leading to a greater return on investment and a reduction in their environmental impact.
Aldi started working with Farm Africa in 2016, donating over £260,000 over three years to support 500 young farmers in the region.
In 2020, Aldi extended their support to these and other farmers for another two years.
Luke Peech, Managing Director of Corporate Responsibility at Aldi UK, said, “Farm Africa does vital work to improve the prospects of farmers in Western Kenya and we’re incredibly proud of our partnership with them.
“The pack house will help transform the local agricultural community, providing an affordable and sustainable way to protect local farmers’ produce that simply wasn’t available before.”
In Gambia, the British government partnered with Kanifing municipality to set up solar powered cold rooms for vegetable preservation in the markets of this city in the west of country.
The aim of the initiative is to reduce food loss, contribute towards food security in the small West African nation and encourage women to enter the vegetable trade.
To this end, several markets in Kafing Municipality will be equipped with solar powered cold rooms- which are more economical to run compared to diesel or electricity run cold rooms.
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