Post-Harvest Losses High—Study


Almost half of food crops produced in the country does not make it to the final consumer, a study on post-harvest losses in the country has revealed. The research sponsored by Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) was conducted in 2013 by The Urban Association Limited (TUAL) on post-harvest losses of selected food crops in 11 African countries.

According to the report, as much as 60 percent of Yam produced in Ghana, for instance, does not make it to the consumer.

The study said the level of losses occurring in maize production, for instance, ranges between 5-70 percent, while between 11-27 percent of rice cultivated never makes it to the consumer.

The amount of millet/sorghum lost after harvesting ranges from 5-15 percent, with 18 percent of cassava lost after harvesting, the report added.

Post-harvest losses typically occur due to a host of factors, including human activities such as transporting, de-husking, shelling, winnowing, drying and bagging, and during storage.

In 2013, Dr. Joe Oteng-Adjei, Minister for Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation, said Ghana loses between 20 and 50 per cent of all vegetables, fruits, cereals, roots and tubers produced each year, while it struggles to achieve food security and eradicate hunger.

He attributed the losses to inadequate storage facilities, poor road infrastructure and the lack of ready market for most agricultural produce.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimate that, the world’s productivity must increase by 70 percent in 2050 in order to feed the estimated 9 billion projected populations. However the world seems far from achieving this goal since estimates from the FAO indicate that, while 1 in every 7 person in the world go without food, about 1.3billion tones of the world’s food is wasted every year.

Speaking at a workshop, which was on the theme: “Innovative Financing in Waste and Spoilage Technologies in Ghana: A decade in Existence,” Thursday 4th November, a Senior Lecturer of Agricultural Economics at the Agribusiness Department at the University of Ghana, Dr. Irene S. Egyir, described the loss levels as a “serious issue” that is particularly rampant during bumper-harvest periods

She attributed the high losses to lack of financing, innovative storage procedures among others within the various value chain of food production.

“Things that we need to do to make sure we are preventing wastage and spoilage is control pests, fungal and other microbial organisms from attacking the produce — and these must not be inhibited by lack of financing,” she said.

Mr J.K Boamah, Director of Agricultural Engineering Service Directorate of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, in a speech read for him, said the Ministry had secured funding from various sources to acquire machinery and technologies such as drying , processing and storage facilities for onward sale to farmers under subsidy.

He said in order for Ghana to make any meaningful headway to minimise post-harvest losses, it was important that the Ministry of Agriculture, the private sector and academia worked together to address the problem of policy, funding, and skill development in the use of improved technology.

The National Food Buffer Stock Company (NAFCO) was set up in 2010 mainly to address the problem of post-harvest losses, ensure food security, and protect farmers from unfavourable prices during bumper harvests.

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