Theme 2: Post-harvest & Agroprocessing

Leonides Halos-Kim (Philippines), Thematic Director

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See Staff section for more information.

Enhancing crop productivity in food crops is generally not enough to lift smallholder farmers out of poverty. Farmers must also add value to their primary production and also diversify their range of income-earning activities, both on and off the farm.

Overall Objective

Improve the postharvest handling, storage and processing of agricultural produce to reduce losses in order to increase income and improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and agro-processors.

Specific Objectives

  1. To promote the use of appropriate postharvest handling and storage technologies that reduce losses, improve quality and food safety, and enhance smallholder farmers' food security and income.
  2. To strengthen extension capacity to provide training in value-adding agro-processing technologies and promote off-farm rural enterprise development for resource-poor farmers, especially women.
  3. To promote development of networks of private service providers to supply value-adding mechanized services to farmers, as required, from planting to harvesting and agro-processing and farm-to-market transport.
  4. To build and strengthen the capacity of private enterprises to supply and maintain recommended postharvest and agroprocessing machinery and equipment, including drying and storage facilities.

 

Strengthening Extension

Training of the trainers, who are primarily the extension staff of the Ministry of Agriculture in all participating countries, is critical for SAA operations. Field demonstrations and capacity building among trainers, farmers and entrepreneurs, will help provide for a lack of professional postharvest extension staff in the focus countries.

Establishing farmer learning platforms to provide training and demonstration programs for such technologies requires strategically deployed permanent sites where equipment is housed, demonstrated and maintained, and where farmers can come together to learn how to use and benefit from them. These staging areas will include well-established farmer associations, such as the One Stop Center Associations (OSCAs) in Uganda, the Niet@Kene farmer association centers in Mali, and Women in Agricultural Development (WIAD) associated with the Ministry of Agriculture in Nigeria. In Ethiopia, primary cooperative society centers are being involved.

The establishment of the Postharvest Extension and Learning Platform (PHELP) for various enterprises, identified through the re-assessment surveys, started in 2010. The different platforms are now being equipped with the necessary technology packages. The use, maintenance and management of the technologies are demonstrated – with a basic management course given to those interested in taking up the processes as a business enterprise.

Improving Postharvest Handling and Storage Technologies

Much of the Theme 2 postharvest handling work is directed toward strengthening the competiveness of commercially-oriented smallholder farmers engaged in Theme 1 crop productivity enhancement activities. Theme 2 staff members help farmers to improve the efficiency and quality of postharvest handling: grain should be unbroken, un-infested, free of debris, and sufficiently dry to be stored without threat of molds. Extension training programs sensitize farmers to market requirements for quality grain. Theme 2 seeks to introduce improved technology (largely mechanized) for threshing/shelling, drying and milling. Reducing postharvest storage losses is a priority for all participating smallholder farmers, whether they are food-insecure or more commercially oriented.

Development of Agroprocessing Enterprises

Theme 2 team works with resource-poor, food-insecure families to provide off-farm employment opportunities through the development of agroprocessing enterprises.

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Agroprocessing women group in Ethiopia

Women-based farmer groups are being assisted to produce marketable products from locally available crops that can be sold in local markets and in larger cities to supplement farm income. These processed food products are prepared using household recipes, and home economists provide technical advice to improve nutritional value and hygiene (in processing and packaging) to make the new products more appealing to consumers. The products are proving to be popular, both locally and in major towns and cities, and offer the potential for developing future agribusinesses.

SAA is also interested in assisting rural dwellers, especially women, to develop agribusinesses that add value to the crops in the SAA crop menu. Examples are parboiling of rice, oil extraction from groundnuts, producing condiments from soybeans, and making flour from various cereals. Focusing on agro-enterprises built around food crops addressed under Theme 1 provides an additional benefit from improving crop productivity, as well as from improved postharvest handling and agroprocessing. This sort of integrated activity represents the fullest expression of the value chain within SAA's new smallholder development model.

Development of Private Service Providers

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Threshing service provider in Ethiopia

One of SAA's strategies to improve postharvest handling is to promote private service providers to supply value-adding mechanized services to farmers. The good example is the introduction of mechanized teff threshing in Shashemene, Ethiopia, which has been highlighted previously. Teff threshed by machine takes a fraction of the time required with traditional methods, it is cleaner and the grain is less damaged. However, a motorized threshing machine is too expensive and has too much capacity to serve only one farmer. To meet the demand, there has been a rapid scaling up of some 200 small-scale commercial threshing enterprises. This small private rural business model can be applied to maize shelling, rice threshing and milling, and flour making. It is now being applied by SAA in other focus countries to scale-up the adoption of potentially profitable post-harvest technologies through private service providers.

Promoting Supply and Maintenance of Postharvest and Agroprocessing Machinery

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Groundnut sheller adopted in Mali

SAA is committed to bringing more labor-saving, quality improving machinery and process technology to postharvest handling and agroprocessing. Developing strategies to supply suitable agricultural machinery to smallholder farmers in the most affordable and sustainable way is a major objective in the T2 program. We offer a service to identify and validate agricultural equipment related to the crops addressed in our T1 crop productivity enhancement program and advise our country programs how such technology can be sourced – either imported or locally manufactured.. We work with machinery fabricators to develop and demonstrate new equipment, as well as provide training to service providers and other end users. We train local manufacturers so that they can sustainably and cost-effectively produce high-quality post-harvest and agroprocessing equipment. We work to ensure that good maintenance systems are also put into place. And, in collaboration with Theme 3, we provide technical support to each country program in identifying market linkages along crop value chains to facilitate the use of value-adding technologies.

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