Farmers in Uganda are battling post-harvest losses with experts saying this is a direct result of the poor handling of crops. Many regions in the northern part of the country are affected, including Otuke, Kwania, Teso, Apac, and Dokolo.
“Like their counterparts across sub-Saharan Africa, poor post-harvest handling is one of the main contributing factors to food insecurity, under-nutrition, and low market access due to poor quality of products in the region,” said the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) via a statement.
“The farmers lose up to 20% to 25% of their cassava to poor post-harvest handling. Where processing and value addition is done, it is rudimental and mostly done manually due to lack of appropriate processing technologies.”
IITA will be working with the Kilimo Trust, a not-for-profit organisation working on agriculture for development across the East Africa community,
including Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Burundi.
To increase food availability, the IITA, Kilimo Trust and Building Resilience to Enhance Food and Nutrition Security Income and Health in Northern Uganda (Brenu) are distributing post-harvest handling and processing equipment for major staples crops in the region to small-holder farmers.
Brenu is a government-led programme supported by the European Union. Its goal is to consolidate stability in Northern Uganda, eradicate poverty and under-nutrition and strengthen the foundation for sustainable and inclusive socio-economic development, says IITA.
Preference to women and youth
A total of 85 cassava chippers and drying racks, eight soybean and rice threshers, and 18 automatic grain cleaners are among the technologies utilised. This is valued at about UGX1.5 billion (about $400 000).
Youth and women-led farming groups and cooperatives in the Lango subregions of Dokolo, Apac, Amolatar, Otuke, and Kwania as well as the Teso subregions, Kapelebyong and Amuria, are targeted.
Anna Odongo Lumumba, the resident district commissioner of Dokolo district, praised IITA for the initiative and for starting in the “baby” sub-counties of Amwoma and Okwangodul.
This is where she officially flagged off the distribution of nine cassava chipping machines and nine drying racks to farmers in October last year.
“Brenu is not only boosting food security, but also enhancing commercialization in the Lango subregion, where subsistence farming is prevalent,” she said.
Anna expressed her hope that the distribution of the equipment would help small-holder farmers in Northern Uganda combat post-harvest losses, which she described as one of the most difficult difficulties they face.
Another district, Kwania, also received 12 cassava chippers and 12 drying racks [in October 2011]. The flag off their distribution was officiated by resident district commissioner Richard Ogwang Odyero.
According to Richard, Brenu should be embraced as it comes to compliment government efforts.