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Low income for small holder farmers has been a song sang in Kenya since time immemorial. Indeed this has become a definitive part of our agricultural system.
Farm Concern International conducted a Validation Value Chain Assessment survey under the USAID Feed the Future: Kenya Agricultural Value Chain Enterprises, KAVES Project to supplement and validate data already available from Government agencies and other studies.
The survey revealed that the main postharvest management for sweet potatoes are grading (29.4%) followed by packaging (23.6%) and sorting (23.5%). The three post harvest practices are critical quality aspects considered by the traders to influence on pricing. This could be explained by the fact that during harvesting of sweet potatoes, there are possibilities of root breakages. The broken roots and those attacked by diseases or pests are removed through the sorting process. The broken roots are consumed immediately or processed into chips for storage while those affected by pests and diseases are fed to livestock. The study revealed that packaging is an important aspect in sweet potato marketing as there are different sizes or bags used to pack the sweet potato and have different prices.
It was also evident that sweet potato is a perishable commodity which majority of the farmers interviewed indicated losing about 2.5% of their harvest as a result of poor pre and postharvest management as shown in the Figure above. These losses could be significantly reduced if smallholder farmers could be made aware of available Post-harvest management practices and technologies for sweet potato fresh roots and value added products. The study sought to estimate sweet potato production, sale and loss as result of Post-harvest handling and it was observed that 73.3% of the total production was sold, 24.2% consumed and remaining 2.5% was lost as result of Post-harvest handling. The reason for this could be explained by fact that sweet potato production requires very little investment and majority of poor smallholder farmers are able to invest in the enterprise.
FCI VISION : Commercialized smallholder communities with increased incomes for improved, stabilized & sustainable livelihoods in Africa and beyond