Reducing post-harvest loss through evidence and advocacy


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Shocking statistics – Farmers weep in silence

Maize loss recorded at 14%, rice loss recorded at 13.5%, cowpea loss recorded at 10%, mango loss recorded at 45.6%, tomato loss recorded at 37.5%, cassava loss recorded at 33.6%, and yam loss recorded at 31.4%.

These heartbreaking figures represent the scale of the post-harvest loss (PHL) in Ghana and the list goes on and on.Yet, government is calling on all to view farming as a business under the current Policy of Planting for Food and Jobs.

In Ghana there are vibrant Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) who undertake advocacy activities to address post-harvest losses. They are often constrained by the lack of a strong evidence focusing on the analysis of data. Like the CSOs, policy makers do not have the information to guide their policy decision making and implementation. The Voice for Change Partnership programme, responds to this by combining the need for strong data and evidence to support policy making between policy makers and CSO’s.

Programme Intervention for the Voice for Change Partnership

SNV and IFPRI are strengthening the capacities of CSOs to collect, analyze and use sound evidence-based data in their engagement with policymakers at national and local levels. In 2017, IFPRI gathered PHL data, and CSOs were trained on how to use the data to push certain interest on their agenda. The research demonstrated that the scale of PHL in Ghana was due to poor harvesting methods, poor handling procedures, poor drying techniques, lack of storage facilities, lack of markets, and poor road networks. All these coupled with limited Extension Officers who deliver extension service[1] makes farming in Ghana unprofitable. It is estimated that the country loses about $700,000 annually on PHL. This has huge economic impacts. A World Bank report estimates that the value of PHL in Sub-Saharan Africa could potentially reach nearly US$4 billion a year out of an estimated annual value of grain production of US$27 billion.

Capacity building for advocacy

Recently, SNV built the capacity of CSOs in Ghana to engage government to develop policies, regulations, and infrasturucture to foster thriving agricultural markets and to ultimately reduce post-harvest losses.

As a result, the V4CP programme partners led by Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana (PFAG) engaged the Ghanaian Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs to help address food losses in the country. Notably, the CSOs collectively called on Parliament, to lift a public sector ban which blocks the recruitment in agricultural sector, which is impeding the sector due to lack of capacity to address post-harvest loss in the country.

The CSOs also called for the improved implementation of cost efficient post-harvest technologies, increased budgetary allocation in the sector, and improved PHL service delivery. Specifically, they have called on the government to take deliberate steps to ensure that post-harvest management was effectively integrated into all its agricultural programmes such as the Planting for Food and Jobs.

 

“While the one-district one-warehouse and the one-district one-factory are laudable and long-term solutions, current short-term challenges such as bad road infrastructure, inadequate machinery, extension services and the adoption of simple post-harvest technologies need to be urgently addressed,” 

- Mrs Victoria Adongo, National Programme Coordinator of the Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana.

The Wheel of Change - Increasing political commitment

The Chairman of the Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, Mr Asafo-Adjei Kwame, pledged commitment from the Committee to help address the high loss in the agricultural sector and to ensure better service delivery. He lauded the V4CP partners for their campaign to reduce post-harvest loss and other agricultural challenges in the country. He further affirmed the Committee’s readiness to collaborate with the three key ministries (the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MOFA), Ministry of Local Government and the Ministry of Roads) to address post-harvest management constraints in terms of infrastructure, personnel and capacity.

The committee admitted that the fostering of effective collaboration and engagement among the MOFA, CSOs and farmers to identify strategies, is the surest way to reduce the rates of post-harvest losses among major crops in Ghana.

Post parliamentary engagements

As a result of these engagements, the Minister of Food and Agriculture was called to parliament to brief them on the Ministry’s measures to address PHL. Currently, the issue of post-harvest loss has been incorporated and prioritised in the Planting for Food and Jobs policy, and in all the Departments of Agriculture at the district level 2018-2021 plans.

Farming becoming a business

In elementary economics, we are told that for a business to be sustainable and worth investing, revenue must be higher than cost. But in Ghana, high losses in the agricultural value chain makes revenue far less than cost. Unfortunately, high losses are currently resonating in the minds of many farmers as the rains set in - announcing the beginning of yet another major farming season. The strong and weak, old and young, small or big will once again turn to the soil to cultivate a variety of food crops either for subsistence or as a business. It is the hope of the V4CP programme to ensure that government creates an enabling environment to reduce the high post-harvest losses in the country.

 

[1] Delivery of information inputs and training to farmers.

 

For further enquiries contact Eric Banya via: ebanye@snv.org, skype; banye.zunuo; +233 244881135.