PRIME Achieves Encouraging Results of Reducing Post-harvest Grain Loss
Global food loss, according to Postharvest Education Foundation, is estimated at 30 to 40 percent. The figure is much higher for developing countries due to poor infrastructure, low levels of technology and low investment in the food production systems. Although data related to postharvest losses in Ethiopia is limited, a recent study by Addis Ababa University and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in two highland communities estimate postharvest loss to be as high as 30 to 50 percent, rendering food and nutrition security fragile. Understandably, the rate of crop loss is even higher in agro-pastoralist areas where crop production is being introduced and knowledge on postharvest management is very limited.
Mercy Corps Ethiopia, in collaboration with local partners and the private sector, implemented an OFDA funded Enhanced Post-Harvest and Seed Storage (EPHSS) project that sought to address postharvest grain loss problems agro-pastoralists face. The project tested different storage options. After a series of on-farm demonstrations and evaluations with farmers and extension agents, pit storage bag (PSB) was selected as the most innovative and efficient storage technology. The impact assessment showed that the technology reduced grain loss to less than one percent from the 31.4 percent loss when the traditional pit was used. PSB is made of a highly durable, readily available rubberized-canvas. During the initial pilot stage, the technology was promoted through a market system approach, with temporary subsidy, in which private sector actors were involved in the manufacturing, marketing and disseminating the product. The product was modified and fine-tuned with subsequent trials. Overall, the PSB technology proved to be effective, affordable, adaptable, and scalable.
Against the backdrop of such a successful trial, USAID-PRIME, in collaboration with the private sector and partners, started promoting PSB technology in January 2014 in Afar Cluster to agro pastoralists of Bonta kebele, Amibara woreda on cost-sharing basis. Activities in the promotion included training of 160 agro pastoralists and woreda extension experts in proper use and installation of PSB technology. Fifty model and interested households were selected for scaling up piloting of the technology. The trainees stored their grains following the instructions and guidelines provided during the training.
USAID-PRIME monitored the status of the stored grains in Amibara to learn how the technology was doing. The findings disclosed that after nearly two months of storage, the grains and the bags were intact. Community members who were skeptical of the technology were relieved and were excited about the prospects of the technology. A community member said, ‘Now we are confident to speak about the technology and anxious to share the experience with others’.
If this technology is introduced sucessfully, PRIME anticipates an encouraging result of improoved incomes and nutritional status of the pastoralist communities in Zone three of Afar Region. The project expects to reach xxx houeholds through this technology. The project will work with the government, development agents and the private sector to facilitate capacity building efforts of making and using the technology.