From the lab to land: Taking postharvest management solutions to horticultural farmers through aggregation centers

High postharvest losses (PHL) which is estimated to be 30% of the food produced for human consumption, is one of the current global challenges that requires urgent attention. Over the years there has been substantial research to address PHL. The problem of PHL is very complex in nature and addressing it requires multifaceted interventions. Appropriate technologies and innovations constitute a critical component of the required interventions. Years of research in postharvest management have yielded applicable technologies and innovations to address PHL. However much of the research outputs or solutions have not been applied due to different reasons including lack of awareness, unavailability and inadequate knowledge on how to use the technologies. To address some of these hindrances to postharvest technology adoption, smallholder aggregation and processing center, a scale up approach conceptualized by the Rockefeller Foundation’s Yieldwise Initiative was adopted. The smallholder aggregation approach was introduced on pilot scale to Karurumo smallholder Horticultural farmers in Embu County of Kenya. The center is envisioned to be a zero-loss, one stop center where smallholder farmers aggregate high quality fruits and vegetables for fresh market. In addition, the unsold produce are processed into shelf-stable products thereby extending their shelf life and marketing period. To achieve this goal, the center has been equipped with simple postharvest technologies including: zero energy brick cooler (ZEBC) and evaporative charcoal cooler (ECC) for precooling and temporary storage; Coolbot™ cold room for longer term cold storage; a small scale wet processing line and tunnel solar dryers for dried products. All the technologies at the center are simple and low-cost postharvest management technologies and innovations which are products of research. Although some of the technologies have been tested and validated on-station (at the University), there has been no commercial application in Kenya, except for the ECC. This paper describes how smallholder aggregation and processing at the Karurumo center, the first one of its kind in Kenya, can be used as a postharvest technology demonstration and learning center for farmers and other stakeholders in Horticulture. The center is an outreach opportunity for researchers to scale out their research outputs and meaningfully engage the end users – from the lab to land. It is envisioned that the smallholder aggregation and processing centers’ approach can be applied in scaling out other research outputs to ensure wide-scale adoption and application by the end users.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
East Africa
RUFORUM Working document series
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
Access restriction: 
Web resource