Private Sector Leverages Technology and Distribution to Improve On-Farm Storage for Smallholders

October 31, 2018

Award ceremony in Kenya with people holding large checks

How can the private sector combat post-harvest grain losses, which contribute significantly to food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa? On October 30, 2018, the AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project recognized three private sector companies with prizes totaling $4 million for developing, marketing, and selling on-farm storage devices to smallholder farmers in Kenya over the last four years.

The end-of-project awards ceremony reflected on the project’s impact and the longer-term value of farmers using such devices to increase their food security and protect against weevils, pests, and aflatoxins. In attendance were various representatives from the Kenyan Ministry of Agriculture, including Mr. Kello Harsama, Administration Secretary for the State Department of Crops in the Ministry, representing the Minister of Agriculture.

“If we manage post-harvest losses by 2030, we will be food secure,” Mr. Harsama stated. “Today I would like to thank AgResults for contributing to the Big Four agenda to become a country that is food secure.”

Elite Innovations, Bell Industries, and A to Z Textiles were each recognized for their ability to employ unique tactics to develop market demand for high-quality post-harvest agricultural products. In total, the project’s competitors sold 1.4 million hermetic storage devices from May 2015 to May 2018. This resulted in over 410,000 metric tons of improved storage space that benefited more than 300,000 farmers.

“These three companies implemented successful distribution networks that reached smallholder farmers in a way that had never been done before,” shared Rodrigo Ortiz, lead consultant for AgResults. “Such efforts illustrate the potential that storage devices can have – with strategic marketing and distribution – to strengthen the food security of smallholder farmers across the country.”

Launched in May 2015, the AgResults Kenya On-Farm Storage Challenge Project was a four-year, US$6.25 million pay-for-results (PfR) project designed to incentivize private sector companies to develop, market, and sell new or redesigned on-farm storage devices to smallholder farmers. Managed locally by Tanager, the project has targeted two regions in Kenya: Rift Valley where 60 percent of the country’s maize is produced and the Eastern Region, which is the third largest maize-producing region but has experienced losses due to the large grain borer pest.

“It is such a privilege to see the outcomes that the AgResults initiative and our partners have achieved over the past three years,” says Andrew Gathecha, AgResults Kenya Project Manager and Tanager Team Leader in Kenya. “All of the companies have worked hard, and we celebrate together the progress we have made in overcoming post-harvest losses, and in the process, catalyzing a long-term market for loss reduction technologies.”

The project is part of AgResults, a US$147 million collaborative initiative between the governments of Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and the World Bank Group that uses prize competitions to incentivize the private sector to overcome market barriers and develop solutions to food security and agricultural challenges. Under AgResults’ PfR model, these competitions encourage grantees to achieve predetermined result thresholds.

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