KENYA – Kenyan President William Ruto has officially unveiled the Ngusishi Cold Storage facility in Meru County aimed at reducing post-harvest losses, enhancing product quality, and bolstering global competitiveness.

The facility, with a robust storage capacity of 2,000 metric tons of potatoes annually, is poised to serve 14,000 farmers, providing a critical infrastructure boost to the agricultural sector.

President Ruto emphasized the government’s commitment to fostering sustainable solutions for Micro, Small, and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) in agriculture, particularly in the pursuit of national food security.

He stated, “This project is a testament to our dedication to creating an enabling environment for MSMEs, ensuring economic viability in agriculture and ultimately creating jobs along the entire value chain.”

The Ngusishi Cold Storage facility is part of a KES 300 million (USD 1.91 million) investment that extends to Kisii and Nyandarua counties.

The overarching goal is to minimize post-harvest losses, fortify the economic sustainability of potato farming, and generate competitive and sustainable employment opportunities within the agricultural value chain.

Accompanying President Ruto during the inauguration were Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua and Simon Chelugui, the Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Co-operatives and MSMEs Development, among other dignitaries.

Cold storage demand on the rise across Africa

In a parallel development, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has pledged to fund a cold storage facility in St Balikuddembe Market, commonly known as Owino Market, Uganda.

Elsie Attafuah, the outgoing UNDP resident representative for Uganda, shared this commitment during her visit to Owino Market, stressing the importance of preserving perishable produce for trade beyond Uganda’s borders.

Addressing market vendors, Attafuah underscored the critical role played by trade in developing countries, noting, “Market vendors are crucial in the development of Uganda and Africa at large. If you are going to trade outside Uganda, you can’t sell produce that is not fresh.”

She urged the vendors to leverage the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), emphasizing the vast market opportunities it presents.

 Attafuah envisions a future where Owino Market can facilitate trade not only within Uganda but across Africa, promoting economic development.

Dorothy Kisaka, the executive director of Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA), commended UNDP for its transformative projects in Owino Market, including infrastructure improvements, market paving, solar lighting, and the provision of cold storage. She acknowledged UNDP’s investment of shillings 1.17 billion, benefiting over 20,000 vendors.

The collaborative efforts between KCCA and UNDP exemplify a model for sustainable urban development and community empowerment.

Both leaders expressed their commitment to ongoing partnerships, envisioning the continued development of Kampala as a smart city.

With these strategic initiatives in Kenya and Uganda, the agricultural landscape in East Africa is set for positive transformation, ensuring increased efficiency, reduced losses, and enhanced global competitiveness.

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