Agriculture would not progress without addressing post-harvest losses’ – Eric Banye
Eric Banye, the National Project Coordinator, Voice for Change Partnership Programme (V4CP), has said until the country is able to address the issue of post-harvest losses the economy would not develop.
He said irrespective of the increases in agricultural production, “we cannot grow our agricultural sector without addressing the volume of losses in the sector, especially at the post-harvest stage.”
“The first thing we have to do is to identify the volume of loss along the value chain and the loss in terms of income along the value chain, who in the value chain in making the highest profit and highest lost and where the problems can be addressed from.”
Mr Banye said this at the V4CP on reducing post-harvest losses among small-scale farmers in Accra on Wednesday, on the theme: “Achieving Food Self-Sufficiency in Ghana: The Role of the Private Sector in Reducing Post-Harvest Losses.”
He said the programme was a five-year evidence based advocacy, not just to campaign but also to bring in concrete evidence that could make an influence in terms of change processes.
He said in Ghana majority of the population was into agriculture, which was one of the biggest sectors in the country where the issues of post-harvest losses were a major challenge.
The lost ranges from almost 30 to 70 per cent depending on the commodity, he said, adding that despite the increase in agricultural produce, farmers had a challenge in terms of making profit.
“From research, the losses start right from the farm, to loading, transporting, selling and storage. So from the harvest period until the time it enters into somebody’s house there are huge losses within this chain,” Mr Banye said.
He said beyond the quantitative lost of agricultural produce, another silent killer of the sector was the qualitative lost, and this was more dangerous as agricultural produce lose their value in terms of quality leading to high rate of malnutrition and other diseases.
Mr Banye said the private sector could play a more crucial role in terms of addressing those loses.
“Under the Government’s Planting for Food and Jobs initiative, there is increased agriculture production but no farmer would be willing to produce knowing he or she would lose huge numbers of it,” he said.
“It is therefore time for us now to begin to think of what exactly can be done to address the high post-harvest losses in the country and all farmers must play a role.”
Mr Kwame Asafu Adjei, the Chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Agriculture and Cocoa Affairs, said there was a link between the private sector in reducing post-harvest losses and achieving food security in Ghana.
He said the agricultural sector was made up of forestry, fisheries, cocoa, and livestock and that developing good infrastructure in farming communities would help address the problem.
Mr Asafu-Adjei noted that farmers were not happy when their produce got rotten on their farms and during transportation and urged the private sector to collaborate with government and small scale farmers to solve the challenge of post-harvest losses to increase profit.
Madam Victoria Adongo, the Executive Director of Peasant Farmers Association of Ghana, said if farmers were losing 70 per cent of the produce after harvesting, invariable, they were losing 70 per cent of their income meaning that they would not be progressing and food production would reduce.
She noted that farmers were doing their best to curb the problem just as government was doing with the Planting for Food and Jobs, but that was not enough.
“Farmers cannot always depend on the Government and, as such, the private sector involvement is key in trying to reduce post-harvest losses,” Madam Adongo said.
She, however, commended government for its commitment towards the One District One-Factory Programme and advised that it should be tailored towards addressing some of the challenges.