Nelly Bassily | February 21, 2011
Once farmers have succeeded in producing a good harvest, they naturally want to make the most of it. Post-harvest losses are a waste, and threaten a family’s food security. Losses can occur from pests, climatic conditions, or simply a bumper harvest of perishable crops. Options for reducing post-harvest losses include better storage facilities (such as improved granaries), storage techniques (such as treating crops with ash or chili), and agro-processing – drying crops, or transforming them into processed products.
These websites may help with program research:
The African Post-harvest Losses Information System: http://www.aphlis.net/
Prevention of post-harvest food losses: fruits, vegetables and root crops. A training manual – online training manual from UN Food and Agriculture Organization. http://www.fao.org/docrep/t0073e/t0073e00.htm
FAO has also produced a “compendium” on post-harvest operations. Click on the small pictures of each crop for more information: http://www.fao.org/inpho/content/compend/toc_main.htm
There are many scripts on food processing and storage in Farm Radio International’s archive. Browse them here:
Here are some previous Farm Radio Weekly stories on storage issues:
Mozambique: A farmer builds a silo with local materials to reduce post-harvest losses (Issue 120, July 2010). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2010/07/19/1-mozambique-a-farmer-builds-a-silo-with-local-materials-to-reduce-post-harvest-losses-helvetas-mozambique-farm-radio-weekly/
Burundi: Seed banks are the answer to chronic seed shortages (Issue 80, September 2009). http://weekly.farmradio.org/2009/09/07/2-burundi-seed-banks-are-the-answer-to-chronic-seed-shortages-syfia-grands-lacs/
Nigeria: Triple bagging an alternative to ‘killer beans’ (Issue 83, October 2009).
You might consider producing radio spots on storage and post-harvest processing. Interview farmers and ask them to describe the problems they face, what they estimate their post-harvest losses to be, and what attempts they have made to reduce their losses. You could highlight one farmer per day as a theme for the week. Ask a range of questions, for example:
What storage treatments are common?
What experience do farmers have with processing crops?
Are there ready markets for dried or processed products?
What type of information is available to inspire farmers to use innovative storage ideas?
Is crop storage the responsibility of men or women? Is processing done by men or women? Could these roles be changed or shared?