One third of crops harvested globally, are lost due to poor post-harvest handling and storage. Even though, the topic has been on the table of governments, local and international development organisations for a while, the situation has not improved significantly. For better post-harvest handling, farmers need two things: Know-how as well as the right technologies for the different steps of post-harvest management. To assure access to information and technologies, public sector, entrepreneurs and civil society need to join hands. We think that only this way we can reach sustainability and scale.
To test this approach, a pilot project was launched in Benin and Mozambique, to facilitate systemic changes in terms of post-harvest management. There were many limitations to the development of value chains for post-harvest management; the raw materials, like quality galvanized metal sheets to produce metal silos, were not available on local markets and entrepreneurs were hesitant to invest in the value chain, as long as there was no manifest demand for the post-harvest inputs including technologies.
The project therefore put a lot of effort in demonstrating the benefits of better post-harvest handling. Furthermore, posters, leaflets, factsheets, manuals, videos, and radio programs were produced to make it easier for extension workers to train different value chain actors including farmers. The key actors in the business were trained to take the lead in community exhibitions and trade fairs, so that their products are known. Local artisans were skilled to make quality silos and were given the required tools for the job. Input suppliers were capacitated in lobbying and advocacy, and can now present and market their products, as well as do political advocacy for tax exemptions on inputs for metal silos. The value chain actors show and distribute PHM videos to participants of community fairs, so that they can watch them at home. The different actors now conduct radio talk shows on different community radios on the topic of post-harvest management.
The crafts men are able to make good quality metal silos. Now, demand for post-harvest management technologies and inputs has picked up and entrepreneurs have started to invest in post-harvest management value chain.
There is now a high demand of triple (PICS) bags and therefore higher sales for the selling companies. “Because of our discussions with ERAD, we have been able to sell 60% more than in 2014. We have more demand for metal silos (Director, Sahel Enterprises). There is improved adoption of good practices on drying and sorting of grains before storage".
A farmer when asked about their appreciation for their involvement in the PHM project, he said “We are very happy with this project. Through this project we are able to sort and then dry our food before storage. Sorting and drying of cereals before storage has now become common in our village”.
A leader from a local NGO that is promoting the “warrantage” system for grains testifies “We are gaining more from the PHM promotion. The demand for “warrantage” systems has increased. Many villages now demand our services to help establish the “warrantage” system. I think this is due to the improvement of the postharvest management in the area……….Farmers are able to negotiate among themselves the terms of the sale and to make decisions about when and at what price to sell their products without waiting for the NGOs to come to do everything for them”.
In Benin, the input suppliers coordinate and moderate the post-harvest business platform. There is now structured collaboration among the platform members; Sahel enterprises and the NGO, ERAD, are now in charge of the PHM project implementation. They meet very often to share their views about the promotion PHM good practices and credit issues. It is now clear that the business of promoting PHM technologies will continue on its own even after the project’s financial support ends.
Would you like to exchange with us on how you can contribute to this noble task of sustainably tackling post-harvest losses through a systems approach, you can visit and make your contributions to the on-going e-discussions on post-Harvest Management group page of the AFAAS virtual social networking platform http://networking.afaas-africa.org/content/business-models-promoting-pos...