Context of post-harvest-management

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

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.

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