Launch of the Hermetic Storage Technology (HST) Campaign - Remarks by Michael Nicholson, Acting Office Chief, Office of Economic Growth, USAID Kenya and East Africa

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Willy Bett, Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries
Distinguished guests
Ladies and gentlemen

Good morning!

USAID is honored to join the Cabinet Secretary, representatives of various stakeholders in the agriculture sector, and everyone here for this important event.

This launch of the Hermetic Storage Technology campaign represents one of the most important goals shared by the United States and Kenya: to transform the lives of millions of Kenyans by ensuring that they live in food secure households, eat nutritious foods and have opportunities for sustainable prosperity within their communities.

This supports Kenya’s Vision 2030 and is the vision supported by the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future global hunger and food security initiative.

In 2013, the U.S. Government made a five year, $225 million dollar investment in inclusive agriculture-led economic growth, and the expansion of markets and trade in Kenya. We did this because we believe that agriculture is a driver of development.

Young people have enormous potential to be both the leaders and beneficiaries of agricultural growth. So, in collaboration with the national and county governments, the private sector and many other development partners, we have been investing in training for young farmers. It has been inspiring to hear them explain what they have learned and then see how they transform their agricultural practices for the better.

Smallholder farmers across the country are embracing change, trying new methods and taking a leap of faith by borrowing money to invest in agriculture. It is these smallholder farmers who are the engines driving Kenya’s economic growth.

The staple grain crops produced by these smallholders provide the foundation for household food security through both direct consumption and income generation. However, postharvest grain loss significantly reduces household food security across sub-Saharan Africa.

Postharvest loss – which can occur during threshing, shelling, drying, storage, and transport – is a widely recognized constraint to food security. Minimizing such losses could play an important role in reducing the volume of grain production needed to feed the country’s growing population.

In Kenya, total annual maize production fluctuates between 2.9 million and 3.4 million tons per year. Postharvest maize losses are particularly severe in Kenya, up to 30 percent of total production, which drastically reduces the volume of maize available for consumption and trade.

The hermetic storage technology is an alternative method that eliminates insects and molds by depleting oxygen levels and producing carbon dioxide within the storage unit.

The technology was initially developed through support from USAID’s Collaborative Research Support Program with Purdue University.

USAID began addressing postharvest challenges in Kenya through initiatives focused on commercializing modern, low-cost hermetic storage technologies suitable for small-scale on-farm use.

USAID embarked on field trials to test 2,500 hermetic storage bags with small-scale farmers across 22 counties, and documented the technical efficacy and the cost benefit of PICs brand bags. The trials confirmed the cost-effectiveness of the bags in almost entirely eliminating wastage.

USAID then supported a market facilitation initiative aimed at promoting and commercializing the technology. Within six months – following farmer training, demonstrations, field days and media messaging – adoption of the new technology grew.

As a result, new manufacturing and distribution companies have entered the market to provide more choices for users. A sector is developing. Hermetic storage technologies offer a clear solution both at the farm and in the trade system.

Working together, we can expand the hermetic storage technology program for the double benefit of improving farmers’ livelihoods and ensuring food security for Kenya’s people. With U.S. President Obama’s signing of the bipartisan Food Security Act, we are confident that the United States will remain a strong partner with Kenya.

A healthy, food secure Kenya is possible, and the United States Government applauds the commitment of the Kenyan people and the Government of Kenya to making that vision a reality.

Thank you.

Nairobi, Kenya
Issuing Country