Half of food crops lost to post- harvest

BY: Ama Amankwah Baafi
Participants at the National Policy Dialogue
Participants at the National Policy Dialogue

More than half of the food crops produced in Ghana do not make it to the final consumer due to Post-Harvest Loss (PHL), the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) has said.

The Programme Coordinator of the PFAG , Ms Victoria Adongo, in an interview during a National Policy Dialogue on PHL and Food Nutrition Security on August 16, 2017 in Accra said the above figures indicated that significant volumes of food, especially grains were lost after harvest, thereby aggravating hunger and resulting in expensive inputs which is being subsidised by government being wasted.

She said the PHL also led to loss in market opportunity and nutritional value, posing serious health hazards, especially if linked to consumption of aflatoxin-contaminated grains.

“Overall, food losses contribute to high food prices and have an impact on the environment and non-renewable resources such as fertiliser and energy are used to produce, process, handle and transport food that no one consumes. Unfortunately, these losses are mostly felt by small holder farmers,” she said.

Effects

It is estimated that Ghana loses about GH₵700,000 annually on PHL. A World Bank report estimates that the value of PHL in Sub-Saharan Africa could potentially reach nearly US$4 billion a year out of an estimated annual value of grain production of US$27 billion.

Agricultural experts say the situation requires drastic efforts to be put in place to be able to increase productivity to feed the growing population.

Causes

Causes of the PHL range from technical issues such as harvesting methods, handling procedures, drying techniques and moisture levels, lack of good storage facilities; filth or contamination, pests’ attacks to governance related causes which include poor sales, procurement storage, marketing and distributing policies, absence of mechanisms such as warehouse receipts systems and mismanagement.

Recommendations to reducing post-harvest loss

The PFAG in collaboration with other civil society organisations have called for improved implementation of available post-harvest technologies, increased budgetary allocation and improved PHL service delivery.

Specifically, they have called on the government to take deliberate steps to ensure that post-harvest management was effectively integrated into all its agricultural programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs.

“Whiles the one-district one-warehouse and the one-district one-factory are laudable and long-term solutions, current short-term challenges such as bad road infrastructure, inadequate machinery, extension services and adoption of simple post-harvest technologies need to be urgently addressed,” Ms Adongo said.

The Policy Dialogue

Under the auspices of the Netherlands Development Organisation’s (SNV) Voice for Change Partnership (V4CP), the PFAG is embarking on activities aimed at informing and influencing policy by using concrete evidence and demands from grassroots to call for effective implementation, increase public investment and improvement of accountability mechanisms on PHL sustainable nutrition.

The dialogue among others sought to generate ideas on tackling PHL and sustainable nutrition that will serve as input into the medium and long-term plans of the nation’s development agenda.

Mr Eric Banye of the SNV said that specifically, the V4CP covered the whole country and was built on three main pillars; evidence generation for advocacy; identify groups to play an active role in developing of polices; and support to institutions to generate evidence to do advocacy.

“Increasingly, we are all looking for policy that will guide our development but must be based on evidence that are based on the needs of the citizens and that is what the V4CP seeks to do,” he said.

He said the partnership also being implemented in five other countries namely Burkina Faso, Ghana, Honduras, Indonesia, Kenya and Rwanda had an estimated budget of €35,000,000 over a four-year period (January 2016 – December 2020).