16 August 2016

Why farmers need traning in value addition

Post-harvest food losses in Uganda are mainly experienced by two categories of farmers—the producers of rapidly perishable foodstuffs such as bananas, vegetables, fruits, milk, and vegetables—and the producers of semi-perishable items such as onions, ginger, yams, cassava and potatoes.

Most of this loss occurs mainly because majority of the farmers lack skills in treatment of their raw crops so as to improve their storage, quality and safety—otherwise known as value addition.

Upon harvesting their crops, farmers become anxious about disposing of them as soon as possible before they get spoiled. The consumers and middlemen take advantage of the situation by paying low prices to the anxious farmers.
Seasonal crops like mangoes are usually in abundance during some months of the year and are in acute short supply in other months.

During the peak season, the farmers are paid low prices and during off-season months, they have no mangoes to sell. This also happens with other farmed products like bananas, pineapples, jack-fruits and vegetables.

Yet if such farmers are introduced to skills such as making banana or mango crisps, they would have alternative markets for the products. They would even sell them at higher prices and earn more money all the year round.
Banana crisps have a much longer shelf life than fresh bananas. Transportation to far-off markets is a lot easier since they are not as heavy as fresh bananas. Consumers feel safer eating the crisps because in their dry condition, they are free from disease-causing micro-organisms.

This is also true for fruits such as jackfruit, pineapples and mangoes. Fresh jackfruit has a lot of sap, which make fingers dirty and sticky but dried jackfruit has no sap.
Farmers groups should be encouraged to buy solar driers and other equipment to preserve fruits, which they may package and sell to supermarkets at higher prices.

Alternatively, they could set up shops to sell their dried products. These shops and drying centres would provide job opportunities since they would require human labour.

E-mail: ssalimichaelj@gmail.com


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