Farmers in Kabarole district have invested in technologies to reduce food losses resulting from poor post-harvest handling. The farmers have been harvesting large quantities of maize and rice but most of which has been wasted due to poor cleaning, drying and storage. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank, sub-Sahara Africa is losing as much as four billion US dollars every year due to post-harvest grain losses.
The farmers have been lacking machines to clean, dry and store their maize harvest which compromises the quality of their produce. Majority of the farmers dry their maize on bare grounds and dirty surfaces exposing it to dirt and insects. The farmers also store their maize in their living rooms which are not aerated.
Through their associations, the farmers have now constructed local cribs where they store their rice and maize produce. In Rwimi Sub County, Ronald Mugisa, the chairperson of Rwimi Maize farmers association, says members volunteered and constructed seven cribs, where they store their produce for more than five months. The crib has not only cut down the farmers’ losses but also saved the money they were using in private storage facilities.
Mugisa says the association was spending more than 300,000 shillings on transport to access storage facilities in Fort Portal town.
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Kakindo Maize Farmers Association in Kisomro Sub County constructed a maize crib at a cost of 1.5 million shillings. The crib can store more than 300 sacks of maize. George Mwesige, the chairperson of the association says members contributed money to build the crib. He says in the past, some farmers were storing the produce in their houses for a long time, exposing it to all forms of destructive elements like rodents and moisture.
Mwesige also says they can store produce for more than eight months until they find market. He says the association acquired a loan of 6 million shillings and purchased maize dryers to help farmers reduce the moisture content of their maize. He said the acquisition of the dryers was necessitated by farmers' demands and unhygienic conditions where they dry their maize.
Some individual farmers have also invested in storage facilities. Wilber Mugenyi, a maize farmer says that he spent 1.2 million shillings to construct a maize crib. Mugenyi’s temporary structure is 10 feet long supported by thick pieces of wood. It can store 150 sacks of maize. It was built using wooden poles and covered with iron sheets and it has enough space to allow in enough air. Inside the structure, there is a raised platform where the bags of maize are stacked. Mugenyi says that in order for other farmers not to make losses, he plans to teach them on how to use the crib.
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According to the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank, sub-Sahara Africa is losing as much as four billion US dollars every year due to post-harvest grain losses. FAO suggests that investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce food losses could significantly increase the food supply in the region.