Reducing posts-harvest losses can triple small-scale farmers' earnings

Small-scale farmers can maximise profits by reducing post harvest losses to animal and other environmental agents.

Having constant supply for the market through the year means sustained revenue flow, which would in turn shield farmers against low prices as they rush to sell their produce at throw-away prices for fear of post harvest loss.

Discussions from a two-day agricultural investment forum in Tanzania have shown that socio-economic transformation requires aggressive and sustained interventions to make Africa the global food basket.

United Nation's Food and Agricultural Organization says 30 per cent of food is lost after harvesting through poor post-produce handling prtocedures. Poor storage exposes yields to destructive animals and weather conditions which reduce quantity and quality of the produce.

At the same time, discussants at the Dar-es-salaam forum said private and public partnership would ensure markets are accessible.

“Markets are at the centre of agricultural ecosystem for multi-sectoral development. Governments and private investors need to ensure that sufficient roads, warehouses, processing facilities, and other infrastructure are in place to get products to increasingly urbanising markets,” six authors said in a joint publication.

In addition to tearing into new regional and international markets, the partnership should enrich farmers with market information to deliver products when prices are highest.

“With unreliable information on production trends and prices, a few smallholders engage in demand-driven or market-informed production.

This leads to poor production planning and cycles of surpluses and deficits.” the team says.

Proper water harvesting, conservation and management can triple yields as well as help in cutting irrigation costs for the 33 million small-scale African farmers, hence maximum profits.

Similarly, agribusiness returns can be maximised by value addition for regional and international markets instead of raw export.

FAO says agribusiness can pull 150 million people in Africa out of hunger because 60 per cent of global arable land is in the continent.

The authors of the report published on the Africa Business are Laura Gurski, Xavier Mesnard, Bart Dijk, Jaco Prinsloo , Yuvesh Bedassi and Wim Plaizier.