Meeting the food demand of a rapidly increasing global population is an enormous task which worryingly, is not helped by the niggling albatross of post-harvest loses.

With global population expected to reach 9.1 billion people by the year 2050, and about 70% extra food required to feed them, the issue of postharvest loses is one that requires an urgent and practical solution.
Tackling post-harvest losses is a sustainable solution to increase food availability, reduce pressure on natural resources, eliminate hunger and improve farmers’ livelihoods.

Postharvest losses consist of food loss across the food supply chain, specifically from harvesting of crop until its consumption by end users. The losses are generally characterized as weight loss due to spoilage, quality loss, nutritional loss, seed viability loss, and commercial loss.

Postharvest loss accounts for direct physical losses and quality losses that reduce the economic value of crop, or make it unsuitable for human consumption. In severe cases, these losses can be up to 80% of the total production.
Across the African continent, postharvest losses have been estimated to range between 20% and 40%, which is significantly high considering the low agricultural productivity in several regions of the continent. According to a World Bank report, sub-Saharan Africa alone loses food grains worth about USD 4 billion every year. For a continent that is still on the fringes of hunger and malnutrition, this analysis makes for grim reading.

Apart from the grim economic and social repercussions, postharvest losses also impacts negatively on the environment , as the agricultural inputs used to produce the lost food inevitably go to waste-just like the food.
Post-harvest loses doesn’t just happen. Indeed the stages in-between harvesting through to consumption are crucial to preventing or causing crop loses. Poor handling, lack of adequate processing facilities, and poor transportation are chief among the broad causes of post-harvest loses. In Ghana where crop harvesting is performed mainly manually using hand cutting tools such as sickle, knife, scythe, cutters etc., poor handling is easily one of the areas deserving of urgent attention, if food security will be achieved.

A study by the Africa Post Harvest Losses Information System in 2016 revealed that the country loses about 318 thousand 514 tonnes of maize annually during the post-harvest period. The three Regions of the north where poverty is predominant account for 34 thousand, 189 of the figure with the Upper West Region having lost 779 tonnes to post harvest management cases. In these regions the major crops which are often affected by perennial post-harvest losses include maize, sorghum, rice, groundnut, cowpea and vegetables.

Similarly, a 2016 study by Dr Bruno Tran, an expert in post-harvest losses management with the Africa Post-Harvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) estimates that Ghana loses about 318,514 tonnes of maize annually to post-harvest losses. This figure according to the study represents 18 % of the country’s annual maize production; with the Northern Region being the largest contributor with 20,411 tonnes annually, followed by Upper East Region and Volta Region which also contribute 13,000 tonnes and 8,983 tonnes respectively.


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Upper West, Brong Ahafo and Central Regions are the least contributors with 778 tonnes, 734 tonnes and 636 tonnes respectively. The author identified failure of farmers to thoroughly dry harvested maize before storage as the reason for the huge incidences of maize loss particularly.

According to the report as much as 60 % of yam produced in Ghana, for instance, did not make it to the final consumer, adding that the level of losses occurring in maize production, ranged between 5-70 per cent. Between 11-27 % and 5-15 % of rice and millet/sorghum cultivated also never made it to the consumer.



To achieve success in the charge against post-harvest loses; farmers must be made to play a central role. Indeed without the involvement of farmers nothing meaningful can be achieved. Most farmers are notorious for being resistant to change and so a carefully structured capacity building forum to help local farmers appreciate and embrace new trends designed to halt post-harvest loses is a path worth threading.
Getting farmers to unlearn negative and timeworn practices which are largely responsible for aiding post-harvest loses will benefit both farmer and the economy. First the farmer will have more to sell at a competitive price while an improvement in rural folk livelihood will soar.

A wholesale improvement in Transportation across rural Ghana is also hugely important. If delicate and often perishable products like fruits and vegetables are able to reach the market without delay and attendant rough-handling, then the un-refreshing statistics made possible by post-harvest loses could well be reversed in the nearest future.
The emergence of expansive Storage facilities is also encouraging and must be improved on. Proper storage facilities will hold and preserve perishable goods until trucks and other haulage vehicles are brought in to cart these goods to the market. While at the market awaiting consumer purchase also, a good storage facility to hold these goods will ensure that goods remain in good condition for the journey from farm to consumer.
Stakeholder support cannot be underestimated in the quest to eventually alleviate the challenge of post-harvest loses. Indeed the monumental effort of stakeholders in the agric sector, particularly agric industry firms must be harnessed and used to help the crusade for an agric sector devoid of preventable post-harvest loses.
Ghana’s agric sector has a telling influence on the local economy and all hands are required on deck to help institute a lasting and effectual solution to the perennial post-harvest loses that has so consistently robbed the hardworking Ghanaian farmers of the reward for their sweat.


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Though Ghana’s effort at achieving zero tolerance for hunger by 2030 seems well on course, post-harvest loses remains a lively threat which should be targeted and defeated, if we are to take the agric sector to deserving heights and consequently propel our economy towards unfettered growth.

The effort of Policy makers is crucial as specific initiatives aimed at tackling post-harvest loses is only possible through a calculated series of interventions that guarantees results.

Post-Harvest loss of precious crops is a challenge we can defeat summarily. But any compressively won battle is never achieved without a well-though out strategy. This is why we must burden ourselves with the noble task of proffering and initiating a comprehensive and efficacious solution to ensure that the marauding canker of post-harvest loses is stopped in its tracks.



Recently, Ghana affirmed her commitment to banishing hunger as the President of the Republic of Ghana, HE Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo launched the national Zero Hunger Strategic Review (ZHSR).The comprehensive national report and road map which is expected to inform national efforts to achieve zero hunger by 2030 was applauded by many social commentators as a commendable feat in efforts to realizing Sustainable Development Goal 2.
Prepared under the supervision of the Ministry of Planning, the report establishes the current state of hunger in the country and offers tangible possibilities available to help reverse the situation.
In his address at the launch, which was organized by the John A. Kufuor Foundation and the World Food Programme, President Akufo-Addo submitted that Ghana had excelled in her attempts to stop hunger in its tracks.
“Indeed, we were the first country on the African continent to attain the Millennium Development Goal No. 1 of halving poverty and hunger, for which the country received an award ‘for reducing the level of its malnourished population from 7 million in the early 1990s to less than 1 million today’”, he asserted.

In this piece, I present you key excerpts from chapter 4 of the report which reflects ‘Priority Actions and Key Findings’ from the report. Read on.



Ending hunger and malnutrition cannot be achieved without critically improving on the agricultural sector in all spheres as well as harnessing the efforts of all sectors of government that directly or indirectly affect food production from farm to table in both quantity and quality. Having enough food must however be coupled with nutrition education and behaviour change communications for zero hunger and malnutrition to be achieved. People must be able to make healthy food choices and apply preparation methods that will conserve nutrients.
It is a fact that if Ghana must end hunger, food security and malnutrition in all its form by 2030 the people to target are small scale farmers, the poor in both rural and urban areas, rural woman, people living under severe environmental conditions, the disabled and the aged. However for food value chains to function so that value can be added to the pro-aggregators, food processers, marketers, financiers and others to facilitate the production, processing, marketing and consumption processes.



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To end hunger by 2030 the following priority actions are recommended by the report:
1) Poverty eradication (SDG 1) is critical for ending hunger, but SDG 2 will be very important for the eradication of poverty especially in rural areas and the reduction of north-south, rural-urban and female-male inequalities national statistics indicate that there has been significant poverty reduction nation-wide yet in the rural and peri-urban communities all groups interviewed felt poverty and hunger had increased over time. That clearly indicates a widening rural-urban inequality and hunger gap. Government has to show greater commitment to SDG 2 targets in terms of provision of resources to support actions being suggested here. If government does not show commitment by action, development partners will be lukewarm in their support.

2) Small-holder farmers are largely the poor and their poverty arises mainly from lack of markets as well as the low prices. They however produce over 90 per cent of the food of Ghanaians. There is therefore need to innovatively create markets for foodstuffs being produced by them. Many suggestions were made with respect to this issue during the country-wide stakeholder consultations. They included the need of a drive to promote the consumption of locally made foodstuffs and to incentivize the private sector to purchase local foodstuffs for processing or for onward sale to areas of need. The public procurement system should also enable schools, hospitals, prisons and other organized institutions to purchase local foodstuffs. There are also suggestions to create farmer’s markets across the country where farmers can once in a week sell their produce directly to consumers. As stated earlier, effective marketing cannot take place without grading and standardizing of the produce. Methods such as those used by WFP in parts of the Brong Ahafo Region should be replicated across the country.

3) Apart from market creation within Ghana, there is a need to look beyond the country to the Sahel countries and even to countries outside West Africa. There should indeed be greater South-South cooperation in the area of agriculture trade to redress this problem of wastage in the developing countries. A priority action is for the various agricultural and trade ministries in countries interested in the idea to start discussions and drawing up plans to start the process.

4) Many stakeholders at all levels have also called for the promotion of small and medium-scale irrigated agriculture, especially in the drier parts of the country. That is certainly necessary and helpful for the eradication of hunger, especially in the rural areas. At our current level with irrigated agricultural in Ghana (less than 5 per cent of total cultivated area ) and given the level of investments required in irrigated agriculture, sustainable irrigation development can only be undertaken gradually, within a long term plan. The promotion of sustainable rain-fed agriculture should be the short, medium and long-term priority.



Ending malnutrition means starting from the beginning of life cycle, that is maternal nutrition should be given a lot more attention because a malnourish mother will give birth to a malnourish child, and the cycle will continue. The NHIS is available but it does not meet all the needs of the pregnant women. There are also programmes by the government and other agencies to ensure proper child care and feeding practises in Ghana. Pro-poor programmes include the LEAP, which targets poor households and pregnant and lactating women. Exclusive breast feeding and complementary feeding, school feeding programme, Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF), free NHIS and others are other government programmes that support child nutrition. However, due to several factors including the lack of resources, the programmes are not very effective.


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The following are some of the main challenges of food and nutrition security programmes:
• Inadequate funding of food and nutrition security programmes at all levels: national, regional, district and community has been a chronic problem.

• Human resource capacity of districts for nutrition activities is woefully inadequate. Most districts have 2-3 nutrition officers in charge of all nutrition programmes so there is hardly any nutrition technical officer at the point of service delivery.

• There is weak inter-ministerial collaboration. Food and nutrition security is multi-sectorial and so without strong collaboration of the relevant ministries and agencies very little can be achieved.

• There is lack of proper documentation on what segments of the population are foods insecure and what foods are considered as food by the people.

• Disproportionate attention is paid by partners to nutrition programmes in different districts even within the same region.

• There is very inadequate supervision and monitoring of programmes.

• The process of selection of schools for school feeding is an issue in several places. In some region the right schools have not been selected and therefore the meals are not provided for those who are in need. Additionally, the amount of money spent on each child in the school feeding programme (GHS 0.80 per child per day) is grossly inadequate. This tends to influence the kind of meals given to the school children. This therefore defeats the purpose of the programme. Also meals provided by the school feeding programmes are substandard partly due to lack of nutrition personnel to help with meal planning. The school feeding caterers are also not using fortified food ingredients.

• IYCF has some major gaps:
o Exclusive breastfeeding is not done by a majority of mothers due to time constraints as well as the duration of maternity leave, which is only for 3 months.
o There is sub-optimal complementary foods and feeding practices coupled with shortfalls in minimum dietary diversity standards for IYCF.

• Women and children do not meet nutrient requirements for micronutrients of public health importance (vitamin A Folic acid, Iron, and iodine) partly due to lack of knowledge, poverty and seasonality issues.

• There is lack of dietary diversity due to limited education on the subject to farm families.

• Though males form the largest percentage of farmers, they have not been involved in many of the educational programmes of proper care and feeding practices. This limits their understanding of nutrition security and their ability to ensure that children and other vulnerable groups are well cared for and fed.

• Poverty is the backbone of hunger and malnutrition but support systems for farmers to increase production to ensure food security is not efficient partly due to inadequate agricultural and nutrition extension.

• There is very inadequate promotion of bio-fortified foods such as orange-flesh sweet potatoes and yellow-flesh cassava.



Other challenges related to health care delivery that indirectly impact on nutrition include the following:
• There are inadequate staffs at health facilities.
• There are also inadequate monitoring and supervision of the work being done by health workers.
• There are very poor health worker attitudes. (Health workers these days especially the nurses enter the profession because of the benefits they will get and not the passion they have for it).
• There are very inadequate rehabilitation centres to manage malnourished children.
• There is also inadequate health education. (Instead of doing house to house education in the communities especially the CHNs/CHOs, they rather do static education at one point).
• Access to water (for personal hygiene and sanitation) in most health facilities is big challenge. Most of the facilities do not have access to clean water making it difficult for staff and clients to use toilet facilities.



For the above challenges, the following actions are suggested:
• Food and nutrition security is so important that government funding of food and nutrition security programmes must be ring-fenced and provided at the times required.
• There should be nation-wide nutrition sensitization since many people at all levels lack a good understanding of nutrition. Hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiency), for example, is not well known to the generality of the population and that explains why many people do not regard fruit and vegetables as “food”. Also, foods that are fortified are not popular among the populace due to lack of information. Besides, adolescents constitute a key subgroup for special nutrition attention since early pregnancies are high and the young would-be mothers need special nutrients.
• Males should be encouraged to attend ANC/WCW with their wives.
• The amount given for the school feeding programme per child must be drastically increased.
• Government needs to partner with the private sector to strengthen the school feeding programme.
• Nutritionists at the district and community levels should be tasked to monitor schools under the school feeding programme and to advice on meal planning and preparation of quality foods.



Having recently launched the national Zero Hunger Strategic Review (ZHSR), many observers believe Ghana has demonstrated a renewed resolve to achieve zero hunger by 2030.Prepared under the supervision of the Ministry of Planning; the report is ably supported by the John A. Kufuor Foundation and the World Food Programme.
In this sequel to my last piece, I present key excerpts from chapter 6 of the report which reflects “Key Messages from Stakeholders and Community Engagements”. Read on…

This section of the report summarizes the key messages from stakeholder and community engagements on the road map to alleviating hunger and malnutrition. These are views of the people that government and its development partners need to seriously take into consideration to help in designing policy guidelines.



a. There should be good collaboration among the ministry of health/Ghana health sectors, the ministry of food and agriculture and the food and drugs authority. This inter-ministerial collaboration is important since most of their roles overlap.

b. Folk perceptions about agriculture and farming should be reconsidered. Many people think that, farming is not lucrative and actually for “school drop outs”. There should therefore be sensitization and educational programs right from the junior high school to change the thinking of people and encourage more to go into agriculture. The practice of asking students to work on farms as punishment affects their perception of agriculture as an altogether punitive vocation.

c. Agriculture should be seen as a business: market-led approaches should be emphasized including the setting up of enterprises and provision of inputs and (including equipment) for food production. The entire value chain should be considered for improvement.

d. Statistical services should be generating data at regional and district levels and government organizations should be encouraged to work closely with the Ghana statistical service. The Ghana statistical service (GSS) has been trying to undertake an agriculture census but has not been able to secure enough resources. If basic input-output information could be collected on routine bases at the district level by GSS that can help in the estimation of areas cultivated to different crops, outputs and yields. Other important data include food consumption from consumption surveys and anthropometric information to determine nutrition status.


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a. There should be cross-sectional or cross-ministerial collaboration to formulate and implement policies and programmes. For instance, the ministry of food and agriculture (MoFA) is not primarily responsible for carrying out research and therefore must include research institutions (such as MESTI, CSIR etc.) in seed production researches. This implies that, there should be consultations with research organizations and institutions who are already in the system and are on the ground. For instance, there is risk of army worm infesting maize and cocoa and therefore the potential threats of outbreaks. One farmer almost committed suicide because army worms destroyed his entire maize farm in Afigya-Sekyere in the Ashanti region during the 2015 farming season.

b. There is a need for agricultural research to impact food production. Researches should develop a compendium of critical agricultural problems in Ghana that requires search, advocate and push for a policy on priority agricultural research areas so that government and donors can be guided accordingly.

c. Reliance on donor funding for research is too risky, does not address the critical issues because all donors have their own pet interests and agendas, and is not suitable.

d. Access to agricultural equipment such as tractor services is generally limited and this is even more so for women farmers. Some women reported they have devised some strategies where they ask the tractor operators to plough for them on credit so they can make payments after harvest. However, this becomes psychologically challenging when there is a poor harvest.

e. Agricultural extension should be supported; there should be funding for dissemination of agricultural findings. This is because the lack of extension services is now a great challenge in the country.

f. There should be enforcement of the seed laws in the country to help enhance the seed system. To ensure effective development of our food systems the country the country must aim at seed security. We must depend on our own research institutions and MoFA to produce the needed seeds.

g. Farming should also be made attractive to the youth through the availability of seeds for planting, mechanization and irrigation to support production.

h. Government should ensure that farmers, processors, pickers etc. obtain remunerative prices for their produce.

i. There should be a ready market for the various food crops in the country. For example, the Ghana Cocoa Board is the sole buyer from cocoa farmers. Such ready markets should also be organized for other crops. A farmers’ market (a set day they all sell their produce) should be encouraged as this can help regulate the price of farm produce.

j. Attention should be given to addressing post-harvest losses and storage since most crop do not have a long shelf life resulting in spoilage/wastage. For example, there should be “grain banks” where farm produce should be stored.

k. The livestock and fingerlings industries and associated logistics should be enhanced e.g. with feed and proper transportation.

l. Land policy is either weak or non-existent; zoning of fertile lands for farming in each district should be done. This will prevent farmlands from being used for housing and other infrastructure.

m. The current trend where most good agricultural lands are being sold to estate developers must be stopped even if it means government buying those lands and leasing them for farmers for farming purposes.

n. Expensive labour: finding money to hire labour is challenging to most farmers and these forces some of them to rely on chemical spraying as a short cut with its attendant problems.

o. Financial institutions themselves are not willing to support farmers with credits or loans due to the potential risks involved in farming. Farmers informed us that, the original mandate of the Agriculture Development Bank (ADB) was to support farmers, which was initially fulfilled. However, currently, the Agricultural Development Bank operates just like the other financial institutions.

p. The market system in Ghana calls for standardization of market prices for farm produce. Prices of farm produce should not be solely determined by market women. Farmers are forced to sell to market women sometimes at low prices due to the fact that failure to do so will result in their farm produce rotting.

q. Standard measures and grading of produce should be pursued to ensure farmers value for their produce.


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a. “farming is somehow seen as a punishment” so most people would rather work as artisans and in offices than in farming . it is basically a disincentive to young men and women to go into farming.

b. Integrate agriculture into mainstream education from basic through secondary as a core subject.

c. Using farm work as punishment in schools should be discouraged.

d. There should be strengthening of research, extension and farmer linkages and all the other actors along the value chain because there seems to be poor collaboration between the different actors and the different agricultural intervention projects/programs. Also, government’s invention programmes should have a specific plan.

e. E-extension should be encouraged in the country but must also take into consideration the fact that a majority of the farmers cannot read.

f. Volunteer extension agents should be incentivized since there are a limited number of extension officers currently.

g. Small scale irrigation, already practised by small farmers, should be improved upon and irrigators supported to increase production.



a. Nutrition is a fundamental human right for every person.

b. Homestead gardens should be promoted.

c. Need for a nutrition calendar for all regions at the district level to aid in planning against food and shortages and to respond to actions from crop failures.

d. Malnutrition leads to poverty and vice versa.

e. Lack of knowledge on food groups and nutrient profile.

f. Globalization of market systems leading to influx of processed foods and beverages that is not nutritionally good.

g. At the school level physical education should be encouraged and intensified

h. Educating people to exercise and be more physically active is necessary.

i. Sensitization on good eating habits as a preventive measure.

j. Government to give incentives to industries which are interested in food fortification.

k. There should be proper segmentation of the population to determine what the particular challenges in each are and properly address them.

l. Stability in farming methods to prevent foods from going ‘extinct’.

m. Regulatory bodies should be equipped with enough logistics to ensure compliance and to monitor food safety even at the micro level.

n. Organic farming should be encouraged to help with the issue of the abuse of chemicals.

o. The need to adopt an enterprise approach to the food and nutrition security situation even at the micro level.

p. There is a need for sensitization on the dangers of the increasing “chemicalization” of food.

q. Health-worker attitude towards patient is varied but some challenges arise when they are overwhelmed with increased work load.

r. Water for household chores and drinking is not easily available and sometimes the quality is compromised by human activities such as illegal gold mining and pollution of water bodies.

s. Food safety is the major challenge with respect to use of pesticides, insecticides and preservatives. Tighter laws and regulations along the food path and value addition chain should be promulgated.

t. No regulation on advertisement so junk foods and alcoholic beverages are promoted and this has serious implications on overweight/obesity, hidden hunger and general health of the people.