Tanzania on right track in tackling post-harvest losses

Small scale grape farmers inspecting their harvest. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The efforts are largely complemented by the country’s political will involving strategies and policies as well as major developments in storage infrastructure across the country.

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania is on the right track to cut post-harvest crop losses by half come 2025, says a new report.

The efforts are largely complemented by the country’s political will involving strategies and policies as well as major developments in storage infrastructure across the country.

A recently published third Biennial Review Report of the African Union Commission on the implementation of the Malabo Declaration, shows Tanzania is among countries that are on the right track in curbing post-harvest losses.

In the quest to end hunger in the region, governments have committed to cutting post harvest losses in half by the year 2025.

By 2021 Tanzania had successfully reduced losses by 28 percent, therefore increasing availability and the quality of food without putting additional pressure on the environment and economy to produce more food.

Stakeholders told The Citizen that the country has made commendable efforts to reduce food wastage in the agriculture value chain hence ensuring food security.

One of the areas cited is improvement of storage facilities. The director general of the Cereal and Other Produce Board (CPB), Dr Anselm Moshi, says many interventions have been made in the food supply chain.

Several studies have reported that maximum losses happen during the storage operations, according to Dr Moshi. He notes that CPB’s plan is to expand the board’s storage capacity to enable it to store about 600,000 tonnes of cereals and other produce come 2025.

“Using proper storage facilities with good technical and handling infrastructures can help reduce the loss of quality and quantity as well as crops’ economic values,” he says.

A study conducted by the Sokoine University of Agriculture (Sua) in 2012, indicated that postharvest loss for three major cereals as follows: maize (15.5 percent); paddy (10.7 percent) and (sorghum (12.5 percent).

Overall, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) indicates that Tanzania farmers lose up to 40 percent of annual harvests through post harvest losses.

National Food Reserve Agency (NFRA) chief executive officer, Mr Milton Lupa believes minimising cereal losses in the supply chain could be one of the resource-efficient ways that can help to strengthen food security and sustainable measures of combating hunger.

Mr Lupa says considering the criticality of post harvest losses during storage, the government through NFRA has invested a lot in establishing large and equipped storage facilities across the country.

“We currently have the capacity to store 251,000 tonnes of food, despite the target of storing over 500,000 tonnes of produce,” he says.

According to Mr Lupa the agency has built new storage facilities in Babati, Sumbawanga, and Mpanda whose construction has been completed. By July this year, the country will increase storage capacity by 90,000 tonnes, Mr Lupa says.

The NFRA boss says the country will be able to store a maximum capacity after one year when construction of all storage facilities will be completed.

Tanzania has enacted the National Post Harvest Management Strategy (NPHMS) 2019-2029 that aims at facilitating and building the capacity of post harvest actors in order to reduce losses and increase farmers’ income as well as food and nutrition values.

The 10-year strategy focuses on food crops, particularly cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables, roots and tubers, as well as crops that are used for production of edible oils.

The strategy intends to provide significant interventions that will reduce post harvest losses and potentially offset the food deficit, according to the ministry of agriculture.

According to the strategy, postharvest management in the country will largely depend on financial support from the government, the private sector, the international community as well as individual contributions.

“However, an integrated approach and coordinated working system is highly required to ensure that funds to address post-harvest issues are used to achieve the objectives presented in the strategy,” reads part of the document.

Furthermore, the document suggests that funds mobilisation for financing NPHMS from several development partners supporting post-harvest interventions will be managed through special arrangement (equivalent to those of the Agriculture Sector Development Plan-ASDP) in order to remain focused.

“Where necessary, the funding arrangement will require signing a common Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the government of Tanzania and development partners agreeing to operational modalities of the Basket Fund (using government system for disbursement and procurement),” stresses the strategy document.

Agriculture Non-State Actors Forum (Ansaf) executive director, Mr Audax Rukonge says many countries did not implement such a strategy, which is an indication that the government of Tanzania is ready to act and help farmers.

“We still have a long way to go in building enough infrastructure because we have programmes and systems in place to support it,” he notes.

He named some of the infrastructures as the processing industries, which will add value to raw produce and give them a new preferred quality for both domestic use and export.

Public policies that support post harvest losses in the country include the 2013 National Agriculture Policy and the Agriculture Marketing Policy of 2008 that collectively underscore the challenge of post harvest losses in achieving food security.

In order to implement such policies, a number of interventions have been formulated by the country including Kilimo Kwanza, Resolve, the Tanzania Agricultural and Food Security Investment Plan (TAFSIP) and Southern Agriculture Growth Corridor of Tanzania (Sagcot).

These interventions were separately introduced in order to complement speedy implementation of the ASDP.

In the ten years post harvest management strategy, the government has highlighted a number of challenges that are still holding down efforts to address the post-harvest losses in Tanzania.

The challenges include inadequate post harvest services, limited agricultural marketing infrastructures and shortage of relevant technologies.

Although the current policy environment is more receptive to the importance of the post harvest losses, the ministry has also admitted that the agriculture strategies have not paid adequate attention to the post harvest losses issues in efforts to increase food and income security.

Additionally, there also is inadequate awareness on post harvest losses among stakeholders, including farmers and the costs to the economy and the environment.