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Postharvest Training and Service Center

An initiative to build postharvest center(s) with training programs and processing facilities to help small-scale farmers reduce food waste.

Photo of Muyomba Wilberforce

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Post harvest food loss is one of the largest contributing factors to food insecurity and hence poverty in developing countries, directly impacting lives of millions of poor, smallholder farming families (WFP 2015). Due to poor post harvest handling and storage practices at the household level, within the first three months after harvest, farmers lose up to 40 percent of their harvest. Yet in Uganda, the loss is at 45% with perishable foods being most affected mainly due to poor handling from farm to the market We have come up with an idea to train and equip farmers and actors in the produce value chain with best post-harvest practices and techniques. We want to set up a training and service center that shall coordinate different training and a series of demonstration activities. The first of its kind in Uganda, the center will offer special training on post harvest handling practices/technologies of all crops to 500 farmers by end of 2018. For instance on practices like right harvest time, maturity indicators, storage, solar drying, cooling, sorting and grading. It will showcase and provide post harvest technologies like Zero Energy coolers, coolbot, solar dehydrators, Insulated cool boxes and tools such as plastic crates, Liners, display cases, temperature probes, calipers, size and grading rings. Lastly it will process and handle produce and act as a marketing agency for farmers produce, aware of the fact that low market value is explained by poor handling of harvests.

WHO BENEFITS?

1. The smallholder farmers. These are our major point of focus; they will be trained in best PH handling practices and technologies, the center shall connect them to better markets and also absorb some of their produce by processing it. 2. The middlemen and traders, they will be trained in best PH handling practices 3. The final consumer, they will receive value for their money by consuming safe and good quality food 4. The government and NGOs they will receive guidance on PH handling

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

In Uganda, beginning in the central districts of the country and subsequently scaling up to the rest of the country

ARE YOU IMPLEMENTING IN AN ELIGIBLE COUNTRY?

  • Yes

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU!

We are an organization called Africa Reach out Foundation registered in Uganda, focused to solving post harvest handling issues. Postharvest Education Foundation (PEF) is ready to avail us with training materials and advice. We are looking for a collaborator to empower us make our dream a reality

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

This idea is not entirely new, its something that we have developed and been trying out at a very elementary level since 2014. We are not a big organization but a team of five members who have been talking to smallholder farmers in our locality about better post harvest handling technologies/practices. When we talk to farmers, traders, policy makers, they want to see and be trained about what we are talking about yet the establishment of training and a service center has never been done because we do not have an established footing but with a zeal to reduce food loss and waste resulting from poor post harvest handling. Post harvest loss is claiming 20 million metric tons of food each year in Sub Saharan Africa, valued at over US$4 billion (FAO 2011) yet it is not given attention it requires. About 800 million people around the world are trapped in a life of poverty and hunger (WFP post-harvest loss 2014-2015) therefore we want to give it due diligence it deserves by dedicating our time to this genuine cause.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

a) This center(s) will be the first of its kind in Uganda; there is no training and services center geared towards solving post harvest losses year round, we want to exist to bridge this gap so as there is a continuous flow of post-harvest handling information and service to the small holder farmers. Whereas prominent and large-scale farmers and traders have adopted up-to-date post harvest technologies, the rural smallholder farmers who constitute 90% of Uganda’s population are still languishing in produce loss, waste and abject poverty. b) Majority of the initiatives in place (both government and private), are committed to increasing production through improved farming methods/seeds. No efforts are in place to better handle the high yield that are being realized by these modern farming methods, if they exist, they are very scanty. c) Agricultural Colleges in Uganda hardly mention about Post harvest handling as a key aspect to having a successful farming enterprise, hence this creates a gap in the existing agricultural extension service. As team leader of the five member group, I am a well trained farmer (graduate) with specialized training in postharvest management by PEF USA

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

We are a team of five members, all with Post Harvest handling knowledge and experience (one agricultural and post harvest consultant, two Social workers, Economist, and Teacher) ready to devote our time to implement the idea, together with support from the community agents who will be selected from the community by the small-holder farmers themselves. We are also assured of support from Postharvest Education Foundation of USA (PEF) that is willing to provide free training materials and advice

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

Whereas the farmers applauded the idea of Postharvest Training and services Center (PTSC) during beneficiary feedback, it changed in the following ways a) Improved on the way information should flow between the center and farmers. This phase brought in the concept of community agents who will be members of the local community elected by the smallholder farmers as coordinators. They will be trained to possess special knowledge on post harvest management of crops of their respective communities. The agent will be responsible for information sharing in the community, identify community training and services needs, schedule training and help in feedback b) We plan to eventually have regional centers across the country and have a formidable outreach team that will work together with community agents. This is because the target beneficiaries are low-income earners that can't afford traveling long distances to access knowledge and skills and as such prefer services in their vicinity. c) Marketing of the farmers' produce came out very strongly during our feedback and as such we have incorporated marketing strategy to help link farmers produce to the high-end-user consumers.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

Pre harvest deterioration of produce caused by pests and diseases in the gardens is not being addressed here; we are assuming that the current and previous production interventions have yielded results and farmers are aware of basic production practices.

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

An ever increasing population has threatened food security in the country for decades, consequently, Uganda's main agricultural policy has been directed towards increased production to create enough food for the geometric population increase. Hence all government and private sector efforts have been focused to increasing productivity. Whereas a lot of efforts around the world to reduce post harvest loss have been done, access to these post harvest technologies and information by small scale farmers has remained a challenge. Consequently, post harvest handling of produce has not been given due attention, leading to high food loss hence low standard of living by the small holder farmers.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

We envisage a country free of food shortage, hunger and poverty. We want to help farmers obtain value for their produce through proper post-harvest handling practices so that they (farmers) able to obtain enough food to feed their household and yet remain with a sizable percentage for the market. Through offering training and market information we specifically focus on ensuring that Uganda's current 45% post-harvest food loss is reduced to 10% by 2021.

MEMBERS OF MY TEAM HAVE BEEN WORKING TOGETHER FOR:

  • More than a year

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within in 500 km of where our team does most of its work

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • We didn't have an operating budget

Post harvest food loss is one of the largest contributing factors to food insecurity, under nutrition, hunger and hence poverty in developing countries, directly impacting the lives of millions of poor, smallholder farming families (WFP 2015).

Food loss and waste represents not only an obstacle to improving global food and nutrition security and feeding the estimated 870 million people still suffering from hunger and malnutrition, but also represents a gross misuse of the planet’s limited resources, while contributing to climate change (Save food initiative)

In many developing countries, due to inadequate handling and storage practices at the household level, within the first three months after harvest, farmers lose up to 40 percent of their harvest to insects, pests, mold, and moisture in pulses and cereals. yet in perishable foods, the percentage is 40% from farm to the market mainly due to poor packaging and transportation. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Sub Saharan Africa alone loses 20 million metric tons of food each year, valued at over US$4 billion (2011).

Agricultural Colleges in Uganda hardly mention about Post harvest handling as a key aspect to having a successful farming enterprise, hence this creates a gap in the existing agricultural extension service. Three aspects are emphasized, feed the soil, take care of the plant and you will have great harvests to take to market. Yet post harvest handling has continued to challenge the produce market accounting up to over 45% of the marketable produce lost to poor post harvest handling right from the farm to the market not counting the minor damages. This percentage loss is alarming when compared to that of the world 40% and also given the fact that about 90% of Ugandans are smallholder farmers. The other effect includes the reduced quality of foods leading to less nutritional values and reduced shelf life. I have been a victim of this loss as a young graduate and it triggered my desire to enroll for a Post harvest training course. In the training, I was exposed to best post harvest handling practices –the causes and remedy to the possible food losses, which practices I have found lacking hence causing food loss and spoilage in Uganda. This is because farmers and other actors in the value chain do not know best post harvest practices. Big and imperforated containers are in use to transport perishables to the market, by the time the produce gets to the market, they are either rotten, bruised or crashed and ends up to the garbage piles in the cities/towns. Some produce that look physically fine have internal bruises resulting to reduced shelf life. Surprisingly, these wastes and spoilage are not borne by all the actors in the value chain; it’s the farmers that they transfer the burden to, by offering them very low prices for their produce. This is because the traders are not sure that the produce will get to the consumer in good marketable condition. Due to poor handling, many lucrative markets (supermarkets) have resorted to importing quality produce yet the same produce exists locally but only poorly handled and packaged. The resulting effects have been severe food shortages as losses reduce the disposable amount of food available to farmer and consumers. Should calamity occur, the small holder farmer are the most affected because they do not know how to handle and preserve their food beyond a season and yet are poor to afford buying food from the markets. To break this cycle of losses to the smallholder farmers, upon completion of post harvest training, I trained others and came up with a small-motivated team to train farmers and actors in the produce value chain. And at the same time, engage local authorities to come up with policies and laws that would address post harvest handling of produce. In all our efforts and deliberations with the actors, we have always been asked to showcase our ideology; as a result, we came up with the idea of creating a Post harvest training and services center. This will offer training and advice to all stakeholders in the produce value chain. This is because, meaningful post harvest efforts that can help farmers have improved income and standard of living, can only be achieved if we engage all actors in the produce value chain.

Attachments (1)

User experience map.pdf

This user experience map shows how the farmer incurs enormous loss of his sweet pepper by the time he gets to the market and his eventual connection to the Postharvest training and service center with his farming group. He is duly served by the center and he gets value for his produce in the market. He is assured of the market for his produce

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Photo of William Lanier
Team

Does Postharvest training and service center have innovative grain storage platforms to grab student attention?
We think NeverIdlle Mobile Utility Grain Storage will grab student attention. 
<https://challenges.openideo.com/challenge/agricultural-innovation/ideas/storage-to-reverse-grain-postharvest-loss>

Photo of Lisa Kitinoja
Team

this idea seems to be for fresh fruits and vegetables

Photo of Muyomba Wilberforce
Team

We have to note that fruits and vegetables are very susceptible to poor post harvest handling practices hence register the highest post harvest losses. These crops are seasonal and yet required in a big percentage in our daily diet. Improving their post harvest handling will not only increase income of farmers, will also improve quality of life of consumers. Therefore, whereas the center shall look at various crops, fruits and vegetables shall be given utmost attention to extend their shelf life.

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Yes, however some PHL is of wet, fruits and vegetables and meat (densely nutritious) and some is dry, high calorie grains. When properly dried and stored, high calorie grain feeds most of the human labor and animal power needed to grow, harvest and process densely nutritious food like fruits, vegetables and meat.
So how do we address the net benefit of nutrition with extended shelf life that requires eating afaltoxin?
William

Photo of Muyomba Wilberforce
Team

There are a number of grain storage option that we have, but also worth noting here, grain losses do not only happen during storage, there are losses and waste happing right from the grain fields. Therefore a solution that shall reduce grain losses in my country starts right from the grain field; how it is harvested, carried to store, dried, threshed and then stored. Here in the country, an average smallholder farmer has approximately 2 acres of land on which to farm, and as such, any innovative strategies that targets such a farmer should be those that are affordable and easily adoptable. NeverIdlle Mobile Utility Grain Storage strategy looks good to me and can be incorporated at the center especially for the commercial grain farmers and the traders because smallholder farmers here rarely store their grain for future sale; whatever they do is hand to mouth.

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Muyomba,
Ok good to hear. Should we form a team and develop a experience map and lesson plan?
William

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Muyomba,
We have see potential in a basics up approach to better storage practices applying calibrated hand held moisture meters.
Maybe the Jobs for Youth to reverse PHL would make a good lesson plan that is easy for a micro-micro job. Give us your comments about <https://challenges.openideo.com/goto/challenge/agricultural-innovation/jobs-for-youth-to-reverse-cereal-grain-postharvest-loss>
Regards,
William

Photo of William Lanier
Team

Hello Muyomba Wilberforce,
William (NeverIdle) hopes you are doing well and wish to invite you to the "1st All African Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (March 28 - 31) Nairobi"
<http://africa-postharvestconference.uonbi.ac.ke/>. We hope to meet and discuss more about Moisture meters and testing to Reverse Grain Postharvest Loss."
Regards,
William

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