Conference on Postharvest and Agro-Processing Extension Held in Ethiopia -- Gearing African Agricultural Transformation----
“Postharvest losses account for 30 percent of the food produced by Africa’s smallholder farmers”, stated SAA’s Managing Director, Dr. Juliana Rwelamira, adding that: “We must improve postharvest handling, storage and the processing of agricultural produce to reduce losses, increase income, and improve livelihoods. Essentially, also, we must produce more nutritious food both for the home and the marketplace.”
– Thus, a conference on Postharvest and Agro-Processing Extension (PHAP) was held in Haile Resort, Hawassa, Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples' Region (SNNPR), Ethiopia, from 24-26, June 2015. The Conference was organized by the Sasakawa Africa Association (SAA) and the Sasakawa Africa Fund for Extension Education (SAFE), in partnership with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture-Ethiopia and funded mainly by the Swiss Development Corporation (SDC-Ethiopia), and the Nippon Foundation, Japan.
H.E. Mr. Wondirad Mandefro, State Minister for Agriculture of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia said in his opening remark, “the conference is very timely, focusing on experience-sharing for impact more than knowledge, on maintaining quality of produce that will change the mindset of the consumers, and on capacity building of stakeholders. We need to work more aggressively to link the farms to organized marketing systems.”
In a rousing keynote speech, Professor Ruth K. Oniang’o, Chair SAA – SAFE Board addressed the conference: “Africa is no longer a continent of desperation but a shining continent full of promise that will one day not only feed itself but also the rest of the world,” adding that “in the space of some years our motto will no longer be ‘We can do it` but `We are doing it`”. She further noted that Food is the first and best medicine – and it has to be good, safe, and not adulterated. She also stressed the importance of appreciating Africa`s indigenous knowledge – therefore to sit and listen to farmers. She reminded the gathering: “Our children are still malnourished, and it is imperative Sasakawa Africa Association must start talking about nutrition and women. Leadership is critical to sustain development”.
The Conference was attended by 158 delegates from Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Ghana, Benin and Kenya. including invited speakers from India, Philippines and the U.K.
The conference highlighted that addressing postharvest issues is critical in reducing harvest and post harvest crop losses, in providing proper nutrition and food security, among others. Improving the postharvest system will stimulate crop production, and facilitate value addition, marketing and agro-processing enterprises.
The conference also identified strategies, interventions and policies for adaptation, adoption and scale-up particularly in SAA focus countries (Ethiopia, Mal, Nigeria, Uganda) Delegates, equipped with information brought back the challenge to pursue a program to develop and implement a sustainable postharvest and agro-processing program in their respective countries.
The conference closing was dignified by the eminent presence of Athletics legend Haile Gebresellasie.