Kenya is a country in East Africa known for its wildlife and national parks whose economy has been steadily improving. According to the latest quarterly report by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Kenya’s economy grew by 6.2 percent in the second quarter, compared to 5.9 percent in the same period in 2015. The World Bank primarily attributes this expansion to developments in agriculture.
Agriculture in Kenya contributes significantly to the country’s economy. Innovations in the industry will not only improve the lives of rural farmers who are more susceptible to poverty, but will also improve the country’s overall economy.
According to government estimates, as much as 50 percent of Kenya’s harvested fruit goes to waste. Contributing factors to post-harvest loss include insects and pest infestations, bruising by means of improper transportation methods and deterioration caused by heat. A post-harvest loss tends to affect smaller farmers more harshly; the losses cut into already limited sources of income.
In response to these conditions, nonprofit organizations TechnoServe and the Rockefeller Initiative have come together to aid YieldWise, an initiative created to curb post-harvest waste and increase income for farmers in Kenya.
The program teaches techniques to manage pests through non-chemical means, determine optimal harvesting times and prepare proper packaging to minimize product loss. YieldWise has trained more than 15,000 farmers on how to eliminate post-harvest loss since 2015.
Through this program, small farmers form connections to potential buyers. For example, YieldWise works with a business group in Embu, in northern Kenya, to facilitate the production of mango crisps and mango flour that can be mixed with other products for a drinkable source of nutrition.
YieldWise is also helping farmers extend the shelf life of crops through providing solar-powered refrigerators. These refrigerators can currently cool three and a half metric tons of fruit for approximately 150 local farmers like John Musomba, who grows mango on a two acre farm in Nziu, Kenya.
“With the organic control interventions in addition to the cold storage facility, I now harvest and sell 250 [metric tons] of mango fruits in a year,” Musomba said in a recent interview with Reuters. This yield is a 150 percent increase from his harvest before the program.
Through the help of this nonprofit collaboration, small farmers can take steps to advance their own businesses while improving Kenya’s agriculture and economy.
– Casie Wilson