Kenya nears completion of new potato cold storage facility aimed to curb post-harvest losses

KENYA – Kenya’s state corporation mandated to formulate and review policies and programmes for MSE Sector in the country, Micro and Small Enterprises Authority, has revealed that the potato-cold storage facility under construction in Meru will be operational by end of February.

The facility is one of the three cold-storage plants the country is establishing at a cost of Ksh. 100 million (US$910,000) each, with the other two located in Olkalou in Nyandarua County and Kisii to store bananas.

According to reports by KBC, the potato storage will have capacity of 300 pallets of packed potatoes.

This will enable farmers to store their harvest up to six months until they are offered deserving prices for their produce and reduce post-harvest losses.

“It is a fact from statistics that at least 33.3% of the annual potato harvest is lost at the post-harvest harvest level.

“Within the Big 4 Agenda, this is a strategic investment by the government to reduce losses incurred by farmers, assist in stabilizing the prices and to form the foundation for value addition,” said Henry Rithaa, Micro and Small Enterprises Authority Chief Executive Officer.

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The establishment will also open up the region to processing through provision of high-quality varieties that will boost production.

“Within the Big 4 Agenda, this is a strategic investment by the government to reduce losses incurred by farmers, assist in stabilizing the prices and to form the foundation for value addition,”

Henry Rithaa – Micro and Small Enterprises Authority Chief Executive Officer

The investment forms phase one of project implementation with phase two to involve value addition.

Meanwhile, Kevian Kenya, one of the leading fruit juice producers in the country has entered into a contractual partnership with the Kenya Agriculture and Livestock Research Organisation (KALRO) to produce high yielding potato seed varieties to meet growing demand.

KARLO has licensed the Thika-based firm to commercialise five of its hybrid potatoes seeds on a 15-year contract to boost production of the right variety required by multinational franchises for making French fries, who have relied on imports to meet their customer needs.

The partnership will see Kevian, the makers of Afia and Pick N Peel juices, pay KARLO royalties at a rate of 2.5 percent of their total annual sales from the potatoes.

The partnership aims to benefit 50,000 farmers in potato growing regions in the country.

Kenya has been relying on imports of certified tubers to meet the growing demand for clean seeds for potato farmers with the view to boosting production of the country’s second most popular staple food.

The country’s potato seed demand stands at 30,000 tonnes annually but the country only produces 6,700 tonnes with most farmers recycling previous crop to use as seed, a move that has been blamed for the shortage that the country faces.

Kenya produces about two million tonnes of potatoes annually even though the country has potential of yielding up to eight million tonnes.

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