African organization launches initiative to reduce post-harvest losses

An African agricultural think tank has launched an initiative aimed at availing mechanized threshers and airtight storage bags to help reduce post harvest losses of cereals in sub-Saharan Africa.

The Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) said Wednesday the 36-month project was aimed at scaling up the use of the two technologies in Africa and will support applied research to bring effective, field tested innovations.

“We are starting the project within Burkina Faso and Mozambique to help reduce post harvest losses in cowpeas and soybeans to 10,000 smallholder farmers,” AGRA President, Agnes Kalibata, told journalists in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi.

Kalibata said that over the years, many organizations have developed a set of innovative technologies to reduce post harvest agricultural losses across the value chain, but in vain.

“For more than 70 percent of Africans drawing their livelihoods from agriculture, finding sustainable solutions to the problem holds tremendous promise for enhancing economic growth, food security,” she said.

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to over 230 million people suffering from chronic undernourishment, but loses about 30 percent of the grains produced, which is blamed on the lack of adequate post-harvest management and structured markets, inadequate storage in households and on farms, and limited processing capacity.

Financed by the Canada-based International Development Research Centre (IDRC) at a cost of 2.15 million U.S. dollars, the project is expected to reach 60,000 farmers in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.

“Reducing the losses is necessary to help meet the increased demand for food and also efforts at strengthening farmer’s resilience to climate change,” IDRC Regional Director for sub-Saharan Africa, Simon Carter, said.

He said the project will introduce low-technology and low-cost threshers which will significantly reduce physical damage to grains, increase threshing efficiency, enhance their quality and make agriculture less labor intensive.

Jane Ambuko, Head of Horticulture in the University of Nairobi, said that with the right tools and partnerships, farmers in Africa were capable of feeding the populations.



Xinhua/Zainab Sa’id