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Uganda - 400 Farmers Trained in Better Post-Harvest Handling Skills

More than 400 farmers from Mubende, Kyegegwa and Kibaale districts have been equipped with skills to enable them minimise the post-harvest losses.

These are mainly attributed to the damp conditions during storage which aid mould growth and the associated risk of aflatoxin contamination.

At a recent workshop held in Mubende Town, Kenneth Oweyesigyire from Aponye Uganda–a company that deals in agricultural produce, noted that most of the produce is of low quality.

“Post-harvest handling involves management of commodities before they are processed, which includes drying, storage, protection against pests and moisture regulation,” he explained. “But many farmers poorly harvest their crops and some of them spray the crops with pesticides so that they can dry faster, others harvest crops before they are really dry enough thus compromising quality.”

He urged the farmers to develop bulk marketing strategy where they can set up groups so that they have a central point to market their produce.

Massive losses

Several farmers at the workshop admitted that they make many mistakes during the post-harvest period, and acknowledge that the training was an eye-opener.

“Many of us lack the money to purchase improved technologies. But we believe that when we work in groups it will be easy for us to address such challenges,” said Christopher Damulira, a farmer from Mubende District

A survey by Uganda Cooperative Alliance and Uganda National Farmers Federation showed that many farmers were registering massive losses due to poor post-harvest handling .

It revealed that Mubende and Masindi are the hardest hit districts, registering more than Shs16b in post-harvest losses per annum. Most farmers who incur losses during harvest account for 67 per cent ,followed by storage (12 per cent) and drying (10 per cent ). In Mubende, for instance, the average weight loss as a result of poor post-harvest handling is 30,000 metric tonnes of maize alone, worth more than Shs13b, while in Masindi, farmers lost grain worth Shs12.5b last year.

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