Food Losses and Loss Reduction Opportunities in Fruits and Vegetable Chains in Kenya

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Project: Food Losses and Loss Reduction Opportunities in Fruits and Vegetable Chains in Kenya – An assessment of potato, courgette and avocado supply chains

Status: Completed

Start: 01 June 2015

End: 30 November 2015

Commissioning party: SNV Netherlands Development Organization

Partners: PHN, Kenyatta University

Organizations involved: Wageningen Food & Biobased Research

In Kenya, fresh fruits and vegetables are viable crops for wealth creation and food security and yet little attention is paid to postharvest losses in the value chain. For example potato is the second most important food crop in Kenya, after maize, and is mostly cultivated by smallholder farmers. The Kenyan government has recognized the critical role horticulture plays in alleviating food shortages given that fresh fruits and vegetables provide higher yields compared to maize and are less affected by climate change.

The issue of food loss reduction is a highly important factor in securing the stable production required to combat hunger and raise incomes. Hence, reduction of food losses in selected fresh fruits & vegetables value chains is a key focus area of a 5-year program in Kenya: the Kenya Market-led Horticulture Programme (HortIMPACT). HortIMPACT is managed by  SNV Netherlands Development Organization. SNV has contracted Wageningen Food & Biobased Research to perform a study on food losses in the Kenyan value chains of potato, courgette and avocado. The Postharvest Network has facilitated in connecting knowledge institutes and governmental institutions. The private sector is being connected in the follow-up of this study.

The goal of this scoping study was to assess the magnitude of post-harvest food losses in the selected fresh fruits and vegetables and recommend food loss reduction strategies that can be implemented under the Kenya Market-led Horticulture Programme (HortIMPACT) in order to improve food and nutrition security households.

The study showed that up to 65% of recorded damage and loss in potatoes occurs at postharvest level and is caused in particular by inappropriate harvesting tools, an insufficiently trained workforce, and lack of grading and storage. 67% of the farmers reported that the biggest losses were attributed to storage which resulted in wilting, greening and sprouting. Potatoes are marketed through a fragmented chain characterized by many handlers, hardly any cooperation, no integration and market failure, which results in high supply risks, high transaction costs, price inefficiencies and quality losses.

About 26.5% of postharvest losses were recorded among courgettes farmers and only 4% PHL were reported for avocado. The biggest loss among courgettes farmers was attributed to transportation while the major loss in avocado was attributed to sorting. Focus on avocado was to provide lessons of good practices of postharvest loss reduction. Courgettes and avocado are grown year round while potatoes are seasonal. This implies that potato prices rise significantly during the off season periods due to the unavailability of effective storage facilities, which makes effective potato storage a large business opportunity for many stakeholders within the Value Chain.

The outcomes of this study facilitated in setting up an effective focus on the reduction of food losses in Kenya:  many arguments exist to scope to the reduction of food losses in Potato Supply Chains of Kenya. At this moment a project is being formalized by the partners that has the ambition to link smallholder potato farmers to high value potato markets in Kenya. The expectation is that the focus of this project will be on effective consolidated storage solutions of potatoes harvested by many smallholders farmers.