Smallholder farmers in Embu County are set to benefit from a new market after the county department of agriculture secured a deal in partnership with Habitat Intertrade, a company that deals with farming and trading of horticultural products.
In this, produce under the new market include onions, tomatoes, capsicum, potatoes, cabbages, chillies, spinach, kales, cucumber, lettuce, lemons, passion fruits, watermelons, pawpaw, avocado, butternuts, mangoes and oranges.
Habitat Intertrade will enter into contracts with farmers where the company will provide a reliable market for the produce with payment being based on cash on delivery.
The deal targets the youth in the county following the launch of Embu County Youth in Agribusiness Strategy 2019-2023.
In this, interested youth farmers and prospective farmers are expected to forward their details including name, ward, irrigation scheme, acreage, the crop they are cultivating or intending to and the quantity to the nearest ward agricultural officers. The county will then link them to buyers.
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Asmin Maslah (left), a horticulture farmer harvesting capsicums with the help of two casuals.
The export market will help in reducing post-harvest losses incurred by farmers in the county and Kenya at large.
In 2017 for example, Kenyan farmers lost 1.9m tonnes of food as they struggled to find markets according to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics.
Of the total food wasted, maize, Kenya’s staple food was the most affected with the country losing Sh29.6bn worth of the crop yet it imported another bunch worth Sh42bn.
Green bananas were the second most affected crop as farmers lost Sh24bn worth of the produce.
Other produce that went to waste due to poor storage and handling, transport, and fungi attack, according to data contained in the 2018 Economic Survey released in April last year, includes Irish potatoes (Sh19.7bn), milk (Sh12.4bn), beans (Sh11.5bn), ripe yellow bananas (Sh5.6bn), sweet potatoes (Sh3.5bn), tomatoes (Sh2.4bn), pineapples (Sh2.4bn), sorghum (Sh1.9bn), and millet (Sh1.6bn).
According to the survey, Kenya loses approximately a third of its produce yearly through post-harvest losses and wastage by consumers who buy more food than they can consume.