How to Solve Kenya’s Food Waste & Losses

Cows eating rejected tomato fruits

In Kenya, the rate of post harvest food losses is 30%-50%. Reducing food waste has the potential to improve Kenya’s health and wealth. It can be a profitable agribusiness idea for youth and women investors.   As expected, highest food spoilage is amongst the small-scale farmers and traders.

Food waste management is a key global challenge today. It exposes millions of people to food scarcity and reduces farmers profits. Spoilt food cannot be sold, consumed or fed to livestock. As a consumer, you can suffer health-wise with several death cases reported each year from food poisoning.

In this article, we list for you the major causes of food waste in Kenya. Besides, get 8 profitable agribusiness ideas in food waste management that you can pursue to make money and create jobs today!

Causes of food waste and losses in Kenya

The key causes of post harvest food losses at farm level are as listed below. You can have a profitable solution to solve each of them.

  • Spoilage of fresh products like vegetables, milk, meat and fruits on transit processing or in the store.
  • Low access to temperature control infrastructure such as freezers, milk coolers and chiller trucks is low.
  • “Rejects by brokers who select the best and discard quality yields for cosmetic reasons such as unwanted sizes and shapes. 
  •  Poor farming practices where produce has traceable high or banned pesticide and antibiotic traces .
  • Poor storage of foods exposing it to moisture and destructive pests such as weevils and mice.
  • Weak food control measures where contaminant food like maize and peanut toxic with aflatoxins gets into value chain necessitating recalls and disposal.
  • Seasonal production where farmers are faced by glut production beyond their capacity followed by scarcity.
  • Unplanned production where farmers do not match supply needs; quality and volumes to market demand
  • Inedible food parts like skin, bones, fruit peels and seeds account for huge amounts of food wastes from open air food markets and processors.

Best solutions to food waste in Kenya-Business ideas

are affordable products and services you can market to food traders and farmers. You can offer commercial extension services, offer cold storage or value addition. Other ideas are growing near markets by urban farming. For efficiency, organize growers into marketing groups for bulk handling. we have explain them as follows;

1. Commercialized extension services

Observing Global G.A.Ps will improve quality of your yields reducing reject volumes by buyers

You will advise food growers and handlers to adhere to sustainable food safety standards like the global good agricultural practices (G.A.Ps) and HAACP. As they observe hygiene and latest agronomic habits, they will produce high quality foods. It will be of desirable sizes, shapes and quality. You will reduce food wastage in the market as out-growers and traders do not reject food for safety, cosmetic or other reasons.

2. Organize farmers into Cooperatives

Organize many individual farmers and traders into efficient marketing groups or cooperatives. Their collective efforts can reduce food wastes in two ways.

Accumulating produce together into economical volumes for bulk processing or transport.

A group can fund a huge investment to preserve their food, add value or increase its shelf life. such ideas include milk coolers for dairy farmers, cold rooms for fruit and vegetable farmers or driers, millers and silos for grain farmers.

3. Invest in cold storage

Cold storage can preserve the quality of highly perishable products like fruits, meat, milk, or herbs. On the hand grains or pulses require dry storage free of moisture. As an idea, construct safe warehouses and stores near the growers or consumers. You can install cold rooms, silos, solar coolers or charcoal coolers.

Your business model can be charging users a daily storage fee to keep their produce safe.  

4. Invest in cold chain transport

Refrigerated trucks reduce food spoilage of perishable products like milk, vegetables or meats

A lot of perishable food products get spoilt while on transit. You can solve this problem by giving cheap cold transport solutions. you can buy and lease refrigerated trucks and chiller tanks. While that sound expensive, you can consider cheap ones like the mobile solar milk coolers. It uses a small cooling system powered by the sun. It is mounted on a motorbike for cheap transit. it is easy to fabricate and you can sell, or lease them milk and vegetable cooperatives. Faster means of transport like air can cut food spoilage considerably.

5. Sell storage products

pests such as weevils and moisture spoil a lot of food each year. There are storage bags and containers that can save farmers this waste. But, many cannot access them due to lack of information on their prices, availability or use. Some of the cheap ones for small scale maize farmers are; Hermetic bags and airtight containers. Medium traders can buy freezers and chillers for perishable products or mini silos for grains.

increasing shelf life does not only reduce food waste but also give farmers more income. They can store their yield and sell when prices are high

6. Food Processing and value addition

Food processing is the most reliable method of tackling post harvest food losses. It increases product’s shelf life thereby cutting down on spoilage. Besides, you can use food wastes as raw materials to process valuable products. An example is use of waste fish skin to make exotic fish leather and animal feed.

Value addition is capital intensive and needs huge funding. Apart from reducing food losses, you will get higher revenues.  processed products like ghee, yoghurt and cream fetches higher prices than raw produce like raw milk.

7. Contract farming

Participating in Contract farming or an out-grower scheme can reduce farmers food waste various ways;

  • Fast collection of harvests shortly after harvest. It will reduce spoilage of foods as you seek for market.
  • Limit food losses that arise from poor quality yields. Contracted growers can access quality inputs and free agronomic advice from land preparation to harvesting.
  • Planned farming help reduce waste as farmers can only grow what will be bought.

As an entrepreneur, you can be the link between growers and off-takers through recruitment, audit, payment and offering extension services.

8. Promote urban Farming 

Urban farming will reduce spoilage that happen on transit. Consumers in towns can grow fresh foods on their backyards, rooftops and balconies.

You can make profits by offering them farm inputs, advice and information. Best ideas are making books and “how to” videos. You can also distribute certified seeds, planting containers, greenhouses or poultry houses.

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