One of the biggest challenges facing African countries in terms of food sustenance is not so much its production, as its storage. Oftentimes there is a lot that is produced in a given season. It is well known that some seasons come with bumper crops, whereas others are just average, or outright disaster whenever too much rain or too little checks crop production. Not so for countries which have good and elaborate storage facilities.
Grains like maize, millet, wheat and sorghum are extremely difficult to store for long; they are easily attacked by weevils, so they can never last many months without having to be disposed of perforce. Meaning production can even be dictated by what can be consumed instantly, which is not any way to motivate farmers to increase output. Yet if there were silos, it would be a very simple matter, as these super-stores can serve multiple functions, not only as stores, but as processing units as well.
So much for grains
For fresh food, it is a similar story, but even more urgent. Grains can keep one or two months without going bad; but fresh foods like fruits and vegetables; and traditional foods like sweet potatoes and Irish, bananas and so on, cannot keep even five days without going bad, if there is no provision for special storage. This means even our budding floriculture business would be in serious danger of only producing at minimum capacity because of the fear of the products going bad before reaching the market. This cannot do at all.
That is why government should be commended for constructing storage facilities at Kigali International Airport to facilitate such producers of horticulture in order to boost production capacity – the same facilities that have been handed to Magerwa to manage.
These resources should be maximally utilized by farmers, as they help conserve the freshness of the products before export. They have also been constructed at great cost so as to motivate greater production.
The onus has now been passed on to the farmers, who should keep the cold rooms busy. It is now the grain farmers remaining to be addressed.