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Business News of Sunday, 30 June 2013

Source: GNA

Post harvest losses; bane of agric production - Survey

Dr Francis Appiah, a Post Harvest Specialist at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), has called for intensified education on the use of modernised farming technologies to control post harvest losses.

He said the time had come for all hands to come on board to educate farmers on the benefits they would derive from using these technologies to ensure food security on the sub-Saharan Africa and in Ghana as a whole.

“We should not leave the awareness creation aspect to only the technocrats, but everybody must get involved to make sure that our farmers adapt the technology to increase production, reduce post harvest losses, and give us healthy and nutritious produce,” he said.

Dr Appiah was speaking at a two day stakeholders workshop organised in Accra to present and discuss findings of the post harvest loss assessment survey, conducted in two regions in Ghana.

He said post harvest losses are a major threat to food security in the country and called for an in-depth research to quantify the losses and suggest interventions.

The survey was conducted by the World Vegetable Center (AVRDC) with financial support from the Bureau of Food Security in Washington D.C.

The workshop was also to obtain input from key stakeholders on issues relating to post harvest losses that occur during harvesting, handling and marketing of vegetable crop and to identify potential areas of intervention.

It also focused on the development of a plan outlining research and development activities to reduce post harvest losses in vegetable crops.

The survey covered post harvest losses that occur during harvesting, handling and marketing of Tomatoes and Amaranth (Aleefu or African Spinach) in Ashanti and Northern Regions.

Dr Appiah said, in Ghana, the problem is not lack of processing companies but how to convince the farmers to adopt the new techniques of farming to minimise losses and improve nutrition.

He argued that if the farmers are provided with processing machines, and they use hoes and cutlasses and other crude methods of farming, problems of post planting and post harvest would not be solved.

Ms Linda Dari, Faculty of Agriculture, University of Development Study, said the survey identified hot weather, disease, damages due to handling and transportation, unavailability of a ready market, quality of variety, delayed transportation as factors inducing spoilage in tomatoes and amaranth production in Northern Ghana.

Other factor include the lack of storage facilities, ready markets, post harvest technologies know-how and financial support, unavailability of modern or improved indigenous strategies to prevent losses and training on simple post harvest technologies.

She called for immediate interventions to arrest the situation.

The World Vegetable Centre was founded in 1971 as an international nonprofit institute for vegetable research and development and is currently running five projects in Ghana.

The centre's post harvest activities are a vital link in the vegetable value chain for global and traditional vegetables in developing countries, with the aim to minimise losses, preserve quality, maintain nutritional content and to ensure year-round availability while empowering equitable income distribution along the vegetable value chain.

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