The Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG), has appealed to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs to help address issues of post-harvest losses in the country.
The Programme Officer of the PFAG, Mr Bismark Owusu Nortey, who made the appeal said past and current statistics on post-harvest losses did not augur well for the country because it had major implications for food and nutrition security for the country.
Making a presentation on behalf of the association,the SNV Netherlands Development Organisation and other civil society organisations to the committee on the current state of post-harvest loss in the country and its effect on productivity and livelihoods, he said last year’s statistics on food losses from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI),cited major crops such as mango, tomato, cassava and yam as having the highest percentage of post-harvest losses.
He said mango recorded 45.6 per cent with tomato having 37.5 per cent, while cassava had 33.6 per cent and yam 31.4 per cent post-harvest losses.
“Other crops such as maize, rice and cowpea recorded 14 per cent, 13.5 per cent and 10 per cent in that other,” he added.
It is estimated that Ghana loses about GH₵700,000 annually on post-harvest losses. A World Bank report estimates that the value of post-harvest losses 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.
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He said the losses were not limited to only food but also all the resources that went into the production of the crop.
He said major causes of post-harvest loss ranged from poor harvesting methods, poor handling procedures, poor drying techniques usually recorded at the producer level and lack of storage facilities.
The other causes included lack of marketing and distributing policies, lack of good road infrastructure and inadequate extension service delivery which are attributable to governance gaps.
He explained that food losses in Ghana were consistently highest at the producer level and attributed that to inadequate extension service delivery in the country.
He called on Parliament, as a matter of urgency, to push for the lift of the ban on recruitment in the public sector, especially in the agricultural sector to recruit more extension agents since the farmer to extension officer ratio was problematic.
The programme officer also called for the development of a Legislative Instrument (LI) to guide the operations of the National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) in mopping up excess produce from farmers.
The Chairman of the Select Committee on Agric and Cocoa Affairs, Mr Asafo-Adjei Kwame, pledged the commitment of the committee to help address the challenge.
He lauded the PFAG and its partners for their campaign to reduce post-harvest loss and other agricultural challenges in the country.
He expressed the readiness of the committee to collaborate with three key ministries; the Ministries of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Local Government and Roads to address post-harvest management constraints in terms of infrastructure, personnel and capacity.
Other committee members called for effective collaboration and engagement among the MOFA, CSOs and farmers to identify strategies to adopt to reduce the rates of post-harvest losses among major crops in Ghana.
The meeting with the committee formed part of the Voice for Change Campaign (V4C) implemented by the SNV, the PFAG and other CSOs with support from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and the IFPRI.
Among the CSOs included representatives from the Ghana Trade and Livelihood Coalition and the General Agriculture Workers Union.