Agro-processing and handling
The biggest challenge facing Kenya as a nation is to provide the food needed by all its citizens on a daily basis. A large percentage of people are unemployed and living on or below the poverty line (< 1 USD/day). These socio-economic realities place a huge responsibility on the shoulders of Kenyan farmers both small and large scale to supply the food needs of the populace. One of the many opportunities to grow markets, turnover and profits and ensure food security is by adding value to farm produce through agro-processing techniques, thus ensuring higher output and reduced losses. Agro processing includes all processes that use agricultural products (seen as the raw product/material input base) to produce food products as well as industrial end products.
Rationale and justification
Agro-processing refers to the activities that transform agricultural commodities into different forms that add value to the product which yields high returns to the farmer.Growth in agro-processing industry plays could play a vital role in the national economic development and has the potential to meet the local needs and export requirements. As increased agricultural production is envisaged, there is need to have proportionate improvement in the agro-processing industry.
To develop and promote appropriate post-harvest technologies, sustainable sources of energy and farm structures.
Farm constraints- At the farm level, there are scattered irregular plots of subsistence smallholder production as well as small sized lands that characterize the Kenyan agricultural system. In most parts of the country, farmers are dispersed and unorganized so that the cost of bulking and consolidating their produce to meet the commercial volumes demanded is enormous.
This research programme will focus on development and presentation of a detailed and clear picture of what the present agro-processing systems (small and medium scale) require to effectively manufacture and market processed food products. The main areas of interest will include service provision, linkages with research and extension, demand-led services, agro-processing technologies, farmer empowerment and policy implementation among others.