Lack of prescribed storage facilities for food, resulting in post-harvest losses, remains an obstacle to the growth of the agricultural sector, a multi-country study in Ghana and Kenya found.
The study, which aimed to analyze the challenges of the smallholder farmers’ market and identify the policies and innovations needed to improve market prospects, indicated that in Ghana, 40 percent of products that were not sold were either consumed or given to neighbors.
Likewise, the study funded by the Open Society Foundation indicated that the same percentage of food crops were either rejected or not harvested by farmers in Kenya.
Dr Julius Gatune, project technical manager, African Center for Economic Transformation (ACET), shared the findings during a two-day webinar on policy learning.
The policy learning event is one of the approaches used by ACET’s Pan-African Coalition for Transformation (PACT), a platform developed to support, learn, dialogue and drive policy-making based on proofs.
Dr Gatune said the study showed that transporting food from the farm to market centers was also a challenge and resulted in post-harvest losses.
He explained that farmers face the challenge of “first mile” transportation and as a result, many tend to sell their produce on the farm.
“In Ghana, around 88 percent of smallholder farmers use the farm to market their produce, while 66 percent of farmers in Kenya have expressed the same sentiment,” he noted.
On access to information, Dr Gatune said the study indicated that farmers in both countries relied on word of mouth, adding that the new media had not had an impact on the spread of the news. ‘information.
The research, he said, recommended the need for technological, policy, business and social innovations to meet the challenges of the agricultural sector.
He noted that the study called for the need to organize farmers and increase their networking capacity to equip them with the skills to use information and communication technologies to access online markets. .
Regarding policy intervention, he said the study suggested rigorous training of extension service agents to help farmers and traders use new technologies to gather information and communicate to improve the market.
Dr Gatune said the study urged the government of both countries to provide subsidies to large farmers with links to the supermarket chain to establish outsourced production patterns, fund research into new technologies to solve marketing issues and create a common innovative platform for stakeholders.
Dr Edward Brown, senior director of research, policy and programs at ACET, said the study examined agricultural and food markets in general and potential market failures, identified the challenges facing small farmers face to access markets, including local, regional, national and international markets.
He said the study identified innovations being deployed to improve farmers’ access to markets and analyze the potential for scaling up these innovations, including policies and actions needed by various stakeholders. .
Dr George Owusu Essegbey, director of the Science and Technology Policy Research Institute of the Scientific and Industrial Research Council, said that as part of the measures to commercialize and develop his technologies, he had established a center within the institute.
At headquarters, he said, an organization has been created to explore a partnership with companies to commercialize food processing techniques, building materials and innovations.