Post-harvest losses in Ghana cannot be completely eradicated, rather it can only be mitigated, says an agricultural economist.
Dr. John B. D Jatoe, a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Agricultural Economics and Agribusiness of the University of Ghana, Legon, expressed uncertainty about Ghana being able to totally eradicate post-harvest losses.
He explained that there are some major factors that affect the situation of which farmers have no control over. Stating difference in weather patterns as one of the factors, he indicated that changes in weather come with its own issues hence, the only remedy is for farmers to adopt good agricultural practices. He made this known when asked if post-harvest losses can be avoided.
“Avoiding, I’m not sure if we can avoid it. We can reduce it but some of it. As a result of the weather condition, in fact, if you look at the weather patterns, changes in the weather bring with it different conditions of diseases and pests. So, sticking with good agricultural practices and then following the production cycle and then implementing all the operations in a timely manner is what will help us get there.”
In an exclusive interview with the Vaultz News, he named low level of mechanization as another factor that contributes to post-harvest losses. Ghana’s agricultural sector is largely dominated by subsistence farming and according to him, until the farmers involve some machinery to shed load, post-harvest losses will be recurrent.
“If we look at the level of our mechanization, it’s just that many of the operations are handled by the farmer and his family. And if you’re just using this your manual labour, just imagine how you will, for example, harvest maize quickly and how you will manage to dry it quickly. Your plantain, how you will harvest it and then how you will process it in such a way that it doesn’t go bad…the same farmer may be engaged in a number of crops so when you look at it, until we get a substantial proportion of our farm activities or farming or people engaged in farming, take up some level of mechanization, it’s going to be with us.”
Dr. Jatoe emphasized that the issue of post-harvest losses is likely to stay with Ghana for a long time though the government has the One-District-One-Warehouse policy underway. In as much as he lauds government for the initiative, he holds that if the farmers do not see the importance of the project, it will be a bootless one.
“High level of post-harvest losses will be with us for a long time. It’s not just about warehouses per say that they will be used. It depends on the arrangement that governs the operation of those warehouses and whether farmers feel comfortable and see them as beneficial and meet their needs.”
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