The government through the ministry of devolution has announced plans to launch a Sh4bn sweet potato factory in Migori County in a bid to help farmers earn more income from the produce through value addition and reduction of post-harvest losses.
This comes at a time when farmers lost Sh150bn worth of produce last year due to post harvest losses.
The sweet potato processing plant will produce crisps, flour and biscuits for sale to the local markets.
Initially, farmers in Migori depended on tobacco as their main cash crop but switched to sweet potatoes after exit of Alliance One Tobacco Company which was buying the produce from farmers in the region.
In 2017, 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, 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.