KENYA – The University of Nairobi has inaugurated the country’s premier fresh produce aggregation and distribution hub, pioneering advanced technology to ensure the delivery of high-quality, safe, and traceable foods and vegetables to the market.

Led by Professor Jane Ambuko from the University of Nairobi, the hub represents a significant leap forward in agricultural practices. Professor Ambuko emphasized the aim to empower farmers through training, enabling them to produce top-quality, traceable produce.

“We aim to train farmers so that they can produce a certain quality of produce including its traceability not only in their farms but also in the university farm,” she stated.

With a design spanning 85 square meters, the hub incorporates cutting-edge features, including a six-metric-ton cold room equipped with Safcoool technology. This technology ensures adherence to rigorous standards throughout the production process, enhancing traceability and safety.

Stephen Kiruhi, an engineer at Mabati Rolling Mills, highlighted the hub’s construction using light pre-galvanized steel, guaranteeing durability without the need for painting.

“This will reduce the contamination of the produce if normal paints were used, that makes it high quality thus it has high hygiene factor,” Kiruhi explained.

The initiative, in collaboration with partners, targets approximately 150 farmers in Kakamega and Kisii counties, offering training in good agricultural practices to optimize yield.

Professor Ambuko emphasized that this support extends beyond production to facilitate access to urban markets, thus ensuring sustainable income for farmers.

Vice-Chancellor Stephen Kiama underscored the project’s potential to create employment opportunities and generate wealth, particularly for farmers in rural areas. He highlighted the hub’s role in linking smallholder farmers to urban markets, thereby enhancing their economic prospects.

The hub’s strategic location and sophisticated infrastructure position it as a crucial link in Kenya’s horticultural supply chain. By streamlining the aggregation and distribution process, it not only ensures the availability of high-quality produce but also contributes to the growth of Kenya’s agricultural sector.

Kenya’s horticultural success story

The inauguration of the fresh produce hub coincides with a period of significant growth in Kenya’s horticultural sector.

Data from the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) indicates a substantial increase in exports of vegetables, fruits, and cut flowers in 2023, underlining the sector’s resilience and potential.

Despite global inflation and fluctuating demand, particularly impacting flower exports, industry experts remain optimistic about the sector’s trajectory.

Clement Tulezi, CEO of the Kenya Flower Council, anticipates a 10 percent increase in horticultural exports for 2023, underscoring the sector’s continued significance as a key contributor to Kenya’s economy.

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