Zero crop losses for zero hunger
In sub-Saharan Africa, small-scale farmers can lose up to 30% of their crops after harvest due to insects, rodents, mould and moisture. Over half of this food waste occurs during production, post-harvest handling and storage. For rural families, lost crops mean lost food, income, water, family health and education. In Mozambique, the World Food Programme is piloting simple and affordable solutions that drastically reduce post-harvest losses with 2,000 small-holder farmers that produce maize, bean and fresh vegetables for school meals.
Throughout Sub-Saharan Africa, up to 30% of crops are lost to insects, rodents, mould and moisture after harvest. In Mozambique, a country characterized by high rates of food insecurity, it’s over 30% of the harvests that are indeed lost in the weeks following the harvest, due to traditional household storage, and poor crop handling. When crops are damaged, spoiled or lost, the amount of food that can be consumed and ultimately sold is reduced. Farmers are consequently forced to sell their crops at low prices immediately after harvest, only to have to buy food at much higher prices later on. This traps households in poverty, preventing farmers from providing for their families and increasing their incomes.
According to the World Bank, every 1% reduction in post-harvest losses leads to $40 million in output gains, with farmers as key beneficiaries.
Building upon an established network of small farmers’ associations that produce maize, bean and fresh vegetables for school meals, WFP is reaching out to 2,000 smallholder farmers with simple, affordable solutions, teaching them how to drastically reduce post-harvest losses and thereby increase their surplus, sales and overall income.
The activities specifically include:
- Training farmers to adopt improved post-harvest practices and storage technologies (such as hermetic bags).
- Supporting farmers to interact directly with agro-processors and schools in order to foster market integration. This linkage is currently provided by WFP buying produce from farmers and sending it to agro-processors for delivery to schools.
WFP will initially provide hermetic bags free of charge to encourage adoption and foster sustainability. Farmers will receive financial management training to enable them to subsequently maintain, replace and procure their own bags.
Two thousand farmers will:
- Know how to protect their crops effectively from spoilage and pests.
- Adopt improved on-farm storage equipment to reduce post-harvest losses.
- Provide high-quality fortified meals to 20,000 children for three years through WFP’s school meals programme.
Farmer surplus (sales and income) will increase by 12.5% (in 2018), 17.5 %( in 2019) and 22.5 % (in 2020).
WFP began its post-harvest loss programme in 2013, conducting trials in Burkina Faso and Uganda, where extensive training and the provision of modern storage equipment to farmers enabled them to retain over 98% of their harvests, compared to losing up to 60% with traditional storage methods. Mozambique has been prioritized by WFP as a country in urgent need of post-harvest loss solutions at household level. Building upon its home-grown school meal programme and other initiatives aimed at enhancing farmers’ production and market access, WFP will keep providing technical and policy support to local and central Government, helping drive replication.