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Monday, 23 February 2015

Tackling post-harvest maize losses in Laikipia West

By Bob Aston
Post-harvest maize management has been a major challenge in Kenya’s agricultural sector as farmers have been experiencing high post- harvest losses. In Laikipia County, farmers lose up to 30 percent of maize harvest due to pests, diseases and rotting. 
This usually leads to lower incomes among smallholder farmers and for many households such losses threaten food nutrition and income security. Tackling post-harvest maize losses through improved post-harvest technologies could play a big role in making food production and storage more sustainable and could make a significant contribution in ensuring Laikipia County is food secure.
In a bid to address this problem, the Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP) organized for a maize concept inception meeting at Agricultural Machinery Services (AMS) Hall in Nyahururu, Laikipia County on February 18, 2015 to deliberate on implementation of a project titled “Formation, Legalization and Training Maize Value Chain Groups On Post-harvest Management. “
The meeting which was attended by among others the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Arid Lands Information Network (ALIN), Eastern Africa Grain Council (EAGC) and various Value chain groups in Laikipia West deliberated on the importance of addressing the high post-harvest losses in maize in Laikipia County.
Farmers sun drying maize
Peris Mutua, Value Chain Development officer with ASDSP noted that the maize value chain lacks adequate and effective co-ordination due to lack of organizations to champion the collective interests of the value chain players leading to ineffective post-harvest management strategies.
She said that the maize concept note project seeks to improve Maize value chain organization and co-ordination and reduce post-harvest losses of maize to below 15 % in Laikipia County.
“The essence of the project is to train farmers in order to reduce post-harvest maize losses. Most farmers in Laikipia West usually grow maize but they always experience high post-harvest losses. We want to address this challenge,” said Peris.

She said that some of the activities set to be undertaken include; Identification and recruitment of facilitators and scheduling of trainings, mobilization, training and demonstrations on post-harvest maize management., linking the value chain groups to four cereal banks, training four cereal bank committees on management and warehouse receipting, sourcing of markets and holding maize market linkage meetings.
Mr. Joseph Mwati, Chairman Maize Value Chain Core Group (VCCG), Laikipia County said that a participatory approach will be used to mobilize and legalize twenty (20) new value chain groups and mobilize 20 existing value chain groups.
He said that each value chain group will consist of 20 members as it is easier to deal with a group of 20 farmers during training on post-harvest grain losses. He noted that mobilization meetings in Laikipia West will start from February 25, 2015 to sensitize farmers about the maize concept note project, importance of group formation, agree on a training plan and identify value chain core groups.
Reducing post-harvest maize losses is of high importance in Laikipia West. Efforts to combat hunger, raise income and improve food security and livelihoods of smallholder farmers through reducing post-harvest maize losses will go a long way in enhancing food security in the County.
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