Monday, January 25, 2016

Program assists maize farmers to reduce post-harvest losses in Laikipia

By Peris Mutua and Lincolm Njiru
Kiamburi farmers in Githiga Ward, Laikipia West Sub County have reduced maize post-harvest losses from an average of 20 percent to an average of 5 percent after the interventions by Agricultural Sector Development Support Programme (ASDSP).
Post-harvest maize management has been a major challenge for many farmers as it leads to reduced farm incomes. In Laikipia County, farmers lose close to 30 percent of their farm produce after harvesting due to pests, bad weather, and poor handling techniques.
Through ASDSP’s extension interventions, the farmers formed Mubau Maize Value Chain group comprising 76-members, 33 male and 43 females to undertake the value chain activities.
The ASDSP interventions included: training the group on formation of groups, development of by-laws, group dynamics, leadership and advocacy; post-harvest management; marketing and agri-business; production practices; and linkage to hermetic bag suppliers like AgroZ and Bell Industries.
Stooked maize in a field
The group has bought an eighth of an acre land worth Kshs 200,000 for building a cereal store for Warehousing Receipting System (WRS). This is after some of its members attended a knowledge exchange visit organized by ASDSP at Schemers Community Based Organization (CBO) in Eldoret.
Mr. Francis Mbogo, Chairman Mubau Value Chain Group said that the group has an ambitious plan to set up a 2 million shillings warehouse in the land. They have started buying building materials.
“We were challenged at Schemers CBO and we realized that we can achieve a lot as a group. We want to be a model maize value chain group in Laikipia County,” said Mr. Mbogo.
According to Mr. Mbogo, the training on post-harvest management and particularly on harvesting, storage, and marketing empowered him and his group to improve their production, reduce post- harvest losses and adopt agribusiness. The group is among the 704 farmers, 410 male and 294 females who directly received training on post-harvest technologies.
“I used to lose around 2 bags per acre due to post harvest losses. Through training on timely harvesting by ASDSP, I have been able to control weevils that used to attack my maize while in the field,” Mr. Mbogo.
He said that he has been using the post-harvest manual, which his group received from ASDSP to train his members as well as other farmers around Kiamburi area.
He noted that the members have also benefited through the umbrella maize organization formed through the ASDSP initiative. The members have been selling their maize at Kshs.2,300 instead of the Kshs 1,800 thus enabling them to earn an extra Kshs. 500 per bag.
The farmers have embraced the use of hermetic bags to store their maize for household food security through purchase and use of 135 special bags.

With the adoption of these interventions spearheaded by the ASDSP, farmers in Mubau Maize Value Chain Group have realized a reduction in post- harvest losses in maize. The members of the group have also reduced grain losses due to rotting which leads to aflatoxins contamination.
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