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Farmers introduced to new food storage technology
According to him, farmers still faced challenges such as inadequate infrastructure, equipment, storage facilities and knowledge gaps which accounted for post-harvest losses of up to 40 per cent in the production of fresh fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops.
Mr Diedong stated that in Bolgatanga last Wednesday during a day's workshop to introduce the Dry Card technology which focused on how best to store farm produce to agro input dealers, selected farmers and extension officers.
It was organised under a programme dubbed “2Scale” which provides support services to agribusinesses in Sub-Saharan Africa with sponsorship from the Dutch government.
The crops officer further indicated that if the right steps were taken in ensuring effective storage of farm produce, Ghana, and for that matter the north, would attain food sufficiency and even increase the export of food and other commodities to other countries thereby increasing the country's foreign exchange earnings.
“Obviously these quantities of food being lost through bad post-harvest practices is unnecessary and can feed the world,” Mr Diedong further said.
He further bemoaned the fact that farmers were still using their indigenous storage methods, hence the low adoption of improved methods of storage.
He said the indiscriminate use and lack of proper use of wayside chemicals were also a contributory factor to post harvest losses which must be checked immediately.
The Dry Card Coordinator of the Abraham Ofori Agro Limited, Mr Clifford Yeboah-Manson, introduced the workshop participants to what the Dry Card sought to achieve in reducing post-harvest losses in Ghana.
He explained that the card was an inexpensive device distributed by the Horticulture Innovation Laboratory in the United States of America.
The card, he noted, was for determining if dried food was dry enough to prevent mould growth during storage.
Mr Yeboah-Manson observed that mouldy food could have a bad taste and might be contaminated with harmful toxins.
“The Dry Card incorporates a cobalt chloride humidity indicator strip that changes colour with changing relative humidity. When a dry product is stored in a sealed container, mould will not grow on it if the equilibrium relative humidity within the container is lower than 65 per cent,” he said.
Explaining further to the participants how the Dry Card worked, Mr Yeboah-Manson said it could be placed in a sample of the dried product in a moisture tight container, such as a sealed plastic bag or a jar.
The card would then display an estimate of the relative humidity within the sealed container in approximately 30 to 60 minutes, and waiting for two hours would provide a more accurate measure.
He stated that if the indicator strips on the card turned pink, then the product was too wet for safe storage but if the strip turned blue or grey, then the product was adequately dried.
“If the Dry Card indicates the product is too wet to be stored safely, then the product should be used immediately or dried further before storage,” he said.
The Country Team Leader and Partnership Facilitator, Mr Jalil Zakaria, said the 2Scale programme started in 2012 and would end in 2023, adding that in the first six years of its implementation, the programme developed a portfolio of 52 partnerships.
He said in the next five years, the programme had projected to develop 60 partnerships in four agro-food sectors and industries, while “Over the past few years, the programme has impacted significantly on small holder agriculture and agribusiness across sub-Saharan Africa.”
The Base of the Pyramid Innovation Centre, the International Fertiliser Development Center (IFDC), the Netherlands Development Organisation (SNV) and the Department of Inclusive Green Growth of the Directorate General of International Cooperation of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs are behind the 2Scale programme.