Find antidote to post harvest losses-Peasant farmers tell govt

BY: Doreen Andoh
Ms Victoria  Adongo (right), Executive Director, PFAG delivering the welcome address at the dialogue. Pictures: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY
Ms Victoria Adongo (right), Executive Director, PFAG delivering the welcome address at the dialogue. Pictures: NII MARTEY M. BOTCHWAY

The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has raised concern over post harvest losses, which, it said, was having dire consequences for those in the food production value chain, especially farmers.

It said it was untenable for the nation to lose about 70 per cent of food produced in the past decade, through post-harvest losses, which caused the nation about $700 million in revenue annually.

The association is, therefore, calling for urgent government action to address the problem.

To help address the challenge, the association last Wednesday facilitated a national forum for private sector actors, mainly Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), to dialogue on how they could contribute to the national efforts to reduce post-harvest losses.

The two-day forum, which took place in Accra, had the theme: “Reducing Post-Harvest losses among small-scale farmers: the role of the private sector.”

It was held under a Netherlands Development Organisation’s (SNV) five-year funded programme, known as the Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP).

The V4CP is aimed at strengthening CSOs to contribute and advocate an enabling environment for public private partnerships, for the provision of good and affordable services, particularly for low income segments in society.

The  forum, among other objectives, provided a platform for generating ideas on tackling post-harvest losses and sustainable nutrition that will serve as input into the medium and long-term plans of the nation’s development agenda.

Causes

The Programme Coordinator of the PFAG, Ms Victoria Adongo, said the high rate of post harvest losses was causing food insecurity, high cost of food, and discouraged private sector investment in agriculture, among other socio-economic development challenges.

She named the causes of the post harvest losses to include technical issues such as harvesting methods, handling procedures, drying techniques and moisture levels, the lack of good storage facilities, filth or contamination, pests attacks, storage and the lack of transportation facilities.

Ms Adongo said there were also governance-related causes, which she said included poor sales, procurement, marketing and distributing policies, absence of mechanisms such as warehouse receipts systems and mismanagement.

She, however, said that the government had emphasised its commitment to partner with the private sector and create the enabling environment so that it became the driver of its development agenda.

“This is why we are here to deliberate on how we as CSOs can help to reduce post harvest losses,” she said.

Interventions

The Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Mr Kwame Adjei Asafu, said the government was aware of the challenges and threats post harvest losses posed to the country’s agriculture.

He said that explained why the government had introduced a number of initiatives, some in partnership with the private sector, to help address the problem.

Mr Asafu mentioned the interventions to include the 1,000 tonnes-capacity warehouse in each district policy and the warehouse receipt programme.

“But addressing such national challenges requires a multi-sectorial partnership. This is why the role of the private sector is very key in addressing or reducing post harvest losses,” he said.

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Mr Asafu expressed optimism that the forum would come up with pragmatic measures to help the national effort to arrest the problem.

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