SDC A&FS Network: Post-harvest

Post-harvest management

Workshop on making metal silos for grain storage, Kenya (Photo: A. Wamalwa/CIMMYT)

Context - Key Resources - Projects - Community - Archive


Postharvest losses of grains and pulses are significant throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. According to FAO 15% of cereals - equalling 15 to 20 million metric tons - are lost every year for human consumption, thereby exacerbating food insecurity. While increasing agricultural productivity will be inevitable to feed a fast growing population, reducing post-harvest food losses along the way from field to fork may not only be more cost-efficient, but can also help to reduce the ecological footprint of food production for human consumption.

SDC's approach
From 1983 to 2003 SDC carried out the successful POSTCOSECHA program in Central America that led to the adoption of metal silos for grain storage by more than 400'000 smallholder households. Based on this experience SDC started supporting a number of initiatives on post-harvest management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) in 2008. Current initiatives are implemented in Benin, Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Tanzania as well as on the regional level. SDC's total support for these programs is approximatively USD 25 million for the period 2012 to 2019.
The post-harvest food loss reduction programs in SSA focus on innovation and the promotion of improved post-harvest technologies and best practices for smallholder farmers, broad sharing of knowledge (e.g. through the FAO Community of Practice) and addressing policy constraints related to post-harvest food losses. To trigger large scale distribution of improved post-harvest technologies, demand-driven and business model based approaches are inevitable. However, such approaches face a number of tough challenges ranging from unfavourable business environments to heavily paternalistic donor programs that jeopardize demand-driven adoption of new technologies.

Key resources

Capitalization of Experience on the Africa Postharvest Management Portfolio
Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, April 2020

Detailed reports:

projects: "Reducing Food Losses through Improved PHM in Ethiopia”, “PHM in Sub-Saharan Africa – FAO/IFAD/WFP” and “Effective Grain Storage for Sustainable Livelihoods" (by Julien de Meyer and Anna Crole-Rees, Illudest Ltd)

projects “PHM in Sub-Saharan Africa (PHM-SSA)” and “Grain Postharvest Loss Prevention (GPLP)” (by Georg Felber & Annet Witteveen)

CAPEX: Grain Post-Harvest Loss Prevention Project Tanzania
Helvetas and SDC, 2020

PHM Management Business Model

Adoption of Improved PHM Practices & Technologies

Access to Finance Model to boost investment in PHM Technologies

The Case of Metal Silos at Household Level

Policy Advocacy in PHM

Bellagio Statement on Postharvest Management
March 2018
Call by postharvest experts to collaborate and scale-up effective actions
webpage with additional information on the Bellagio Statement

Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems
High Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (HLPE), June 2014
Report analysing food losses and waste in a systemic, a sustainability and a food security and nutrition perspective

Reducing Food Losses - Factsheet
SDC - GPFS, April 2015
Short overview of the main facts, current discussions and SDC's activities regarding food losses

Technical manual for the construction and use of family-sized metal silos to store cereals and grain legumes
Danilo Mejía-Lorío / Matthew Howell / Adolfo Arancibia, FAO, November 2015
Detailed manual for the construction and use of metal silos for grain storage

Training Manual for Improving Grain Postharvest Handling and Storage
Rick Hodges / Tanya Stathers, WFP/NRI, July 2012    
Manual for post-harvest handling and storage trainers with detailed reference material and technical guidance, presentations and posters for field usage

Food Losses
Rural 21, Vol. 47 Nr. 1/2013    
Collection of articles on the dimensions and causes of food losses and how future approaches can be designed

5 Year Ex-Post Impact Study: POSTCOSECHA Programme Central America
SDC, March 2011
Impact assessment study documenting the achievements of SDC's POSTCOSECHA program in Central America and giving insights for the transfer to Africa

Further resources:
Documents and videos
focusing on post-harvest management of grains, many published in the context of SDC's POSTCOSECHA programme



Benin, Mozambique - Regional | 2012-2020
Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa
This project promotes simple technologies (metal silos, improved traditional silos, hermetic bags a.o.) to increase food security and nutrition among smallholder farm families.
more info: SDC project database | Helvetas project page

Ethiopia | 2012-2021
Postharvest management in Sub-Saharan Africa

To reduce food losses the project raises awareness, develops capacities of farmers and other actors, disseminates improved practices in selected regions and formulates a postharvest management policy.
more info: SDC project database | FAO project page

Burkina Faso, Congo, Uganda - Regional | 2012-2021
Postharvest management in Sub-Saharan Africa – FAO/IFAD/WFP

The goal of this project is to reduce postharvest losses for improved food security of smallholder farmers focusing on the establishment of a global community of practice to enhance knowledge management and support to policy development.
more info: SDC project ​database | FAO project page | Community of Practice | Project Outcomes

Tansania | 2010-2020
Grain Post-Harvest Loss Prevention

The project reduces postharvest grain losses leading to increased availability and quality of food for home consumption and income generation by addressing systemic impediments to improved household grain storage.
more info: SDC project database | Helvetas project page Article: Food insecurity trial | Comparison of Maize Storage Technologies: ReportArticle, Presentation, Poster    



FAO’s Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction

SDC promotes the dissemination and use of knowledge on food loss and waste reduction strategies with its strategic partners. With FAO, SDC partners to run a Community of Practice (CoP) on food loss reduction that serves as a global convener and an integrator of knowledge related to post-harvest loss reduction. It offers a platform to facilitate linkages and information sharing amongst stakeholders and relevant networks, projects and programs such as SAVE FOOD and SDC funded projects on post-harvest management.

The CoP is integrated into FAO's Technical Platform on the Measurement and Reduction of Food Loss and Waste and it is one of the major outcomes of the first joint project being implemented by FAO, IFAD and WFP, and funded by SDC (Postharvest Management in Subsaharan Africa). The project represents an innovative approach to close collaboration between the three Rome-based UN agencies; it is hoped that its model can be scaled up in the future.

Register for the community of practice!

List of links to post-harvest management activities of other institutions   



Overview of SDC's POSTCOSECHA Programme
From 1983 to 2003 SDC carried out the successful POSTCOSECHA program in Central America that led to the adoption of metal silos for grain storage by more than 400’000 smallholder households ... [read more]

Documents and videos
Collection of over 100 documents and videos on post-harvest management of grains, many published in the context of SDC's POSTCOSECHA programme ... [browse documents]