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Ideas & Debate

EDITORIAL: Scale up efforts to cut post-harvest losses

Maize harvesting
Maize harvesting in Uasin Gishu. FILE PHOTO - NMG 

With the heavy rains pounding the country continuously cereals farmers have borne the brunt of the deluge as they run out of space to dry their produce.

It was therefore not surprising to hear a farmers lobby pleading with the government to direct the National Cereals and Produce Board to allow farmers to use its dryers and storage facilities. According to the Cereals Growers Association, the government should offer drying facilities to farmers at subsidised rates so as to avert a looming food crisis in the country.

The Strategic Food Reserve recently announced that it would not set the price for purchasing maize as has been the norm.

It goes without saying that the country cannot to suffer any more post -harvest losses. Farmers have in the past lost massively due to the vagaries of weather and pestilence.

The heavy rains being witnessed in the country have wreaked havoc in the major cereals growing regions hence the need to find a lasting solution to the problem. Since the National Cereals and Produce Board is the main buyer of the harvests from the farmers, it would benefit the organisation more if it ensured that what it gets from the farms are in good condition. The State agency has storage silos in parts of the country and these are the one the lobby group wants its members to be allowed to use.

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Normally, the NCPB charges farmers who take their maize grain to its facilities to be dried Sh30 per bag for every drop of one percent of moisture in a bag. Maize is normally dried to 13.5 percent per bag to avoid rotting and aflatoxin contamination.

This is meant to ensure that any grain it purchases attains the required moisture content

We urge the farmers lobby and NCPB to find a solution that will ease the producers’ worries.

There is urgent need to protect the cereals harvests so as to curb any losses.

Since the millers and traders cannot buy cereals that have not been dried to the required standard, the onus is on the government to ensure that the farmers do not lose their harvests.

Helping out the farmers would also go a long way in alleviating the burden brought about by increased input costs as a result of the bad weather.

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