By Nomthandazo Gabi
COMING from a period of incessant droughts, Zimbabwe is expecting to experience a bumper harvest of about 2.5 million to 2.8 million metric tonnes of maize in 2021, due to an above-average rainfall season, however, farmers are being advised to guard against Post Harvest Losses (PHL) that has led to farmers losing up to 30 percent (%) of a harvest.
PHL remains a major challenge to a number of farmers countrywide. According to research done by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) about 30% of harvested grain is lost due to lack of appropriate storage facilities which is a situation forcing farmers to sell most of their grain soon after harvesting at very low prices, leaving them poor.
Farmers are urged to guard against PHL because reducing it can help increase food availability and security, while also improving access to food, nutritional quality, and food safety and farmers income.
Chiyedzo Josiah Dimbo, founder president of Southern Africa Media in Agriculture Climate and Environment Trust (SAMACET) said, “Farmers should consider value addition at the farm level, that is, they should sell finished products and grind their maize before sending it at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), which will help them minimise losses,” said Dimbo.
Moreover, the directorate of Agriculture Engineering, Mechanisation and soil conservation has been re-established with a dedicated department of post-harvest technology and storage engineering to safeguard harvest.
Modalities for grain mobilisation, purchase, storage and infrastructure upgrading are already at an advanced stage with 665 COTTCO collection and buying points have been earmarked for use by the GMB, as additional collection points.
According to a recent Cabinet brief, GMB is working on a decentralisation payment system to be administered at the depots in order to guarantee the timeous payment of farmers for delivered grain
The National Development Strategy 1 (2021-2025 NDS1) intervention raised hopes that PHL prevention would be managed using cutting edge technologies.
By Nomthandazo Gabi