Combating Postharvest Loss for Smallholders: How to Achieve Sustainable Adoption?

By Steve Sonka and Grace Kenney

The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss is currently working on a learning assessment of global food loss as part of a grant funded with financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation for the Waste and Spoilage in the Food Chain Development Initiative. This effort has led to opportunities to highlight areas of focus in postharvest loss and development projects.

At the Alliance for a Green Revolution Forum 2014, Rockefeller Foundation and AGRA co-hosted a side event on “Reducing Post Harvest Loss and Food Waste”. A short video was prepared for that session to highlight some of the lessons learned within the ADM Institute research effort.  Dr. Steve Sonka, Research Professor at the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois, is the narrator of the video.

In this video, Dr. Sonka addresses the following questions:

  • Why is reduction of postharvest loss important?
  • Can smallholder farmers in Africa employ the technologies needed to reduce postharvest loss?
  • Why haven’t we seen widespread adoption of technologies to reduce PHL in developing countries?
  • What are the central learning lessons offered by the examples mentioned?

Examples of effective storage in Uganda and Burkina Faso, as well as the metal silo project by the ​Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation in Central America, are discussed.

We invite you to listen to the video and join us in our learning process. More information about this grant can be found here.

6 Comments

  • NeverIdle storage Posted January 19, 2015 5:11 am

    The video is loading but not playing in Ghana?

    Reply
  • NeverIdle storage Posted January 29, 2015 9:05 am

    Video loaded and played after connecting to hi speed Accra connection.

    Reply
  • NeverIdle storage Posted January 29, 2015 9:40 am

    Discussing Bag (Hermetic) Utility in Ghana, West Africa
    During Field handling to storage environments significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013).
    – Bag (hermetic) field handling to storage use a protective sack and a field/farmhouse is required to exclude rodents, birds, wild fire, theft and temperature fluctuations (day vs night). Bags do not breathe and so condensation caused by temperature fluctuations can encourage mold and insects and in turn lead to major losses in grain quality and volume. IPM requires monitoring, but if Bags are opened for monitoring the hermetic atmosphere is not always restored. Manual labor is used to load the sacks, which causes wear / tear, increases risk of re-infestation and replacement costs. Hermetic bags need locations with field/farm/warehouses to scale to harvest and prevent PHL.

    During Storage significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013) and the net value of storage to a market-oriented grower is a function of price seasonality, value loss prevention, and their opportunity cost of capital (Jones, 2011).
    – Bag (hermetic) need warehouses, effective management and IPM to be grower cooperative storage. Even though at first, control of insects is possible, control is likely not sustainable / tonne stored. The longer the grain is stored in hermetic bags before the seal is broken, the longer it would take to restore the hermetic atmosphere. Manual handling causes wear and tear which increases replacement costs or allows insects’ access but not, if it is needed, fumigation.

    The net value of market access to a grower is very meaningful but Godfray (2010) says “A yield gap may also exist because the high costs of inputs or the low returns from increased production make it economically suboptimal to raise production to the maximum technically attainable.”
    – Bags marketing via Warehouse has low utility, because it often requires protocol fees, services and manual or mechanical processing out of sack or bags. Warehouses are suited to cooperative processing. However, locations typically lack tactical access to markets and related warehouse receipt “institutions will likely fail when support is withdrawn. These are typically multimillion projects that do not work, as the marketing environment is not sufficiently developed to support them. Even if they did work, they would not help smallholders, whom they are often claimed to do” (World Bank and Ferris, 2013). Typically, limited tactical and strategic market access reduces production below optimal levels.

    Reply
  • NeverIdle storage Posted January 29, 2015 9:41 am

    Discussing Bag (non-Hermetic) Utility in Ghana, West Africa
    During Field handling to storage environments significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013).
    – Bag (non-hermetic, insecticide fibers sewn into bag) field handling to storage requires a field/farmhouse to exclude rodents, ground water, birds, rain, flooding, wild fire and theft. Bags (non-hermetic) breath to mitigate condensation caused by temperature fluctuations (day vs night). IPM cost is low during field handling to storage. Manual labor is used to load the sacks which causes wear / tear, increases risk of re-infestation and replacement costs. Insecticide fiber sewn bags need field/farm/warehouse locations to scale to harvest and facilitate IPM to prevent PHL.

    During Storage significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013) and the net value of storage to a market-oriented grower is a function of price seasonality, value loss prevention, and their opportunity cost of capital (Jones, 2011).
    – Bag (non-hermetic) need warehouses, effective management and IPM to be grower cooperative storage. However, even though initial control of insects is possible, it is likely not sustainable / tonne stored because the insecticide fibers lose effectiveness after 150 days or they are covered by dust. Manual dust removal and stacking or unstacking is cumbersome and increases replacement costs. Control without IPM soon increases insect resistance and reduces net value.

    The net value of market access to a grower is very meaningful but Godfray (2010) says “A yield gap may also exist because the high costs of inputs or the low returns from increased production make it economically suboptimal to raise production to the maximum technically attainable.”
    – Bag marketing via Warehouse has low utility, because it often requires protocol fees, services and manual or mechanical processing out of sack or bags. Warehouses are suited to cooperative processing. However, locations typically lack tactical access to markets and related warehouse receipt “institutions will likely fail when support is withdrawn. These are typically multimillion projects that do not work, as the marketing environment is not sufficiently developed to support them. Even if they did work, they would not help smallholders, whom they are often claimed to do.” For example, “none of the defunct GFDC’s warehouses was functioning”, “all were idle or have become rusting monuments to inappropriate technology transfer. Typically, limited tactical and strategic market access reduces production below optimal levels.

    Reply
  • NeverIdle storage Posted January 29, 2015 9:44 am

    Discussing Can (H) Utility in Ghana, West Africa
    During Field handling to storage environments significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013).
    – Can (artisan, hermetic) field handling to storage prevents rodents, birds, insects, rain and theft but require floors (but not walls) to exclude ground water and a roof to mitigate condensation caused by temperature fluctuations (day vs night). Temperature fluctuations can cause condensation and so a hermetic seal is needed to prevent mold and insects. At first the cost of hermetic insect control is low but if cans are opened the hermetic conditions are not often restored. Flex field handling to storage is poor because cans do not store cobs, groundnuts in the shell or sacks. Manual labor is used to load the cans with mechanical options. Cans are suited to field handling to storage because scaling to match harvest and PHL is only limited by the roofs and floors a grower is willing to invest in.

    During Storage significant PHL occurs (Lipinski, 2013) and the net value of storage to a market-oriented grower is a function of price seasonality, value loss prevention, and their opportunity cost of capital (Jones, 2011).
    – Can storage will capture price seasonality if built by local water tank artisans so capital requirements are medium. However, if cans are opened for monitoring or to add or remove portions, the hermetic atmosphere that prevents molds and insects must be restored using a candle or naturally and so IPM / tonne stored is medium. However, scaling for grower cooperative storage is limited by manual handling, low capacity and roofs and floors want secure land rights.

    The net value of market access to a grower is very meaningful but Godfray (2010) says “A yield gap may also exist because the high costs of inputs or the low returns from increased production make it economically sub-optimal to raise production to the maximum technically attainable.”

    Can marketing has medium utility. Processing out to bowls, sacks or back to bulk is done by gravity if the cans are set on raised benches. However, tactical management must maintain benches, roof, and walls and if opened restore the hermetic atmosphere. Strategic floors, roofs and raised benches are capital that must be risked to ease processing and access markets.

    Reply

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