Over 50 to train in post-harvest handling

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A farmer dries cassava. / Sam Ngendahimana

More than 50 local agribusiness dealers and farmers will undergo post-harvest and storage handling and pitching training in Nairobi Kenya.

Under the theme, Supporting Innovative Technologies for Postharvest Loss Reduction the training programme is expected to attract over 400 participants from across East Africa.

The training which will begin on April 4-5 will focus on how best to reduce post-harvest loss through better storage management practices and technologies, said James Shikwati, the chief executive officer of the Inter-Region Economic Network.

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), about one third of the food produced globally is lost or wasted representing a loss of 1.3 billion tonnes of food per year.

Emmanuel Kayiranga, the chairperson of post-harvest handling and storage taskforce and head of the national strategic reserve at the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Resources, said the ministry is currently training more farmers and agro dealers to address the challenge.

“We are mobilizing farmers and the private sector to engage in post-harvest activities and ensure the problem is addressed,” Kayiranga told The New Times yesterday adding that the idea is not only to train but also equip farmers with modern storage infrastructure that ensure quality along the value chain.

Therefore we are optimistic that the training in Nairobi Kenya will boost what we are already doing at grass roots level, he added.

Overall, the initiative according to experts will help improve production, and ensure food safety and security. “Such innovations will make it easy to improve post-harvest management of perishable foodstuffs, livestock and fish products, as well as non-perishable commodities like grains, and cereals,” said Claudine Musabyimana a maize farmer in Gicumbi District.

Last year, the East Africa Postharvest Technologies Competition 2017 was launched to help address the challenge of post-harvest loses in the region.

Rwanda has already confirmed its participation in the challenge, which will be taking place in Nairobi, Kenya in April this year.

The competition seeks to identify 25 scalable innovations and technologies that address challenges in postharvest management.

Young innovators from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi can participate in the contest whose three top contestants will pocket $30,000 in seed funding.

The competition will help identify a range of technologies that have the potential to help the continent confront and counter the huge challenges in post-harvest management.

It is also an opportunity for stakeholders in the food supply chain to learn, share information and build strategic partnerships that will help reduce post-harvest losses in the region.