To a farmer, the term food loss often means devastation and loss of valuable resources invested into their agricultural venture. Post-harvest food loss in particular is a leading cause of economic loss for farmers, as well as food insecurity for millions of families in Kenya and the world.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates that over 50% of fresh fruits and vegetables produced in sub-Saharan Africa are lost or wasted, mainly during post-harvest processes. This can be attributed to the fact that most smallholder farmers lack knowledge on suitable technologies to properly harvest, store and transport fresh vegetables to consumer markets.
This is the case for 35-year-old Daniel Moriati, a vegetable farmer in Oloitokotok, Kajiado County, Kenya. For him, farming is a passion which began back when he took agriculture lessons in school. He however actualized this passion in 2017, when his father gave him 10 acres of grazing land to farm.
When I started farming, I felt fully equipped with all the knowledge I needed to make it a profitable venture. However, I did not know that I would face challenges that at some point made me regret some of my decisions.
During the initial years, he farmed cabbage, kales, beans, and okra. It was profitable so he decided to expand the farm and introduce new crops. He started off with tomatoes.
In 2020, I decided to plant tomatoes. From my little research, tomatoes can fetch good prices if well cultivated. They are however very delicate and prone to diseases, but this didn’t worry me since I had received expert advice from CropCare, an agribusiness support service provider, on tomato production. The crop matured well, and it was all smiles till it was time to harvest. I was stranded with mature tomatoes, but no buyer showed up. Unfortunately, I did not have the means to transport them to consumer markets. I lost all the produce due to its perishable nature. The loss experienced made me decide that I would never farm tomatoes again.