Pwalugu farmers sensitised on post-harvest losses

Pwalugu (U/E) The Ghana Trade and Livelihoods Coalition (GTLC) has held a durbar at Pwalugu to create awareness on Post-Harvest Losses (PHL) and how to manage them.

The durbar, which was attended by the chiefs and people of Pwalugu in the Talensi District of the Upper East Region, highlighted the important link that existed between PHL reduction, food and nutrition security.

It was supported by the SNV and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

Mr Ibrahim Azure, the Policy Officer of GTLC, said PHLs constituted significant challenge to the improvement of the agricultural sector in Ghana, and its apparent ability to address the food and nutrition security.

He said: PHLs are mainly caused by low commitment of governments to implement national policies and investment benchmarks on the sector, limited access to improve post-harvest management technology, low extension service delivery, and poor access to ready markets.

Mr Azure said the agricultural sector was characterised by significant PHLs as a result of ineffective and inefficient use of post-harvest infrastructure, adding; Losses have been estimated at 14-18 per cent for maize and other cereals and they occur along the community chain from farm to farm resulting in higher prices and loss of revenues. The problem of PHL has related food safety consequences.

He cited the small holder farmers who relied on traditional storage systems, resulting in staple foods such as maize and groundnuts becoming highly susceptible to contamination with fungal by-product; aflatoxin.

Aflatoxin is known to contribute to the high rates of stunting observed in children in Ghana, he added.

Mr Samuel Adawuni Aborah, a farmer in the community, noted that there had been some minimal level of interventions to address the issue of PHL in the District.

These interventions, he said, included training farmers on good agronomic practices, the proper food storage methods, sun- drying of food as well as chemical use.

Mr Aborah said these interventions were not adequate to address the issue of PHL in the community and that several factors accounted for PHLs, which could occur along the community value chain from the farm to the consumer.

He said PHLs were recorded in commodities such as rice and tomatoes adding; Rice is not harvested at the right moisture levels resulting in low quality after milling.

He attributed high PHLs in the District to inadequate and dilapidated nature of storage facilities and bad road network.

It needs to be stressed that the entire District has 25km of asphalted and chippings roads. The roads, therefore, remain largely un-motorable during the harvesting season. This, therefore, makes the situation more serious, Mr Abora said.

Mr Timothy Apania, the District Agricultural Extension Agent, said PHLs were mostly experienced at the farm and suggested that farmers could hoard their produce if the market price was low, and later sell when the prices increased since they had their animals to sell to earn a living

Source: Ghana News Agency