WFP, Sudan government explore innovative ways to curb post-harvest losses
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in Sudan has hosted a consultative forum on post-harvest losses, to explore ways of reducing food losses through approaches such as hermetic storage bags.
The forum linked various actors in the food value chain, including international manufacturers, national distributors and marketing companies along with government representatives from the Ministry of Agriculture – a key supporter and co-host of the event.
In Sudan, smallholder farmers lose up to a third of the food they produce because of inadequate storage systems. Post-harvest losses reduce incomes for farmers, exacerbate food insecurity, and have negative impacts on the environment. Land, water, farm inputs and energy are all used to produce food that is not consumed.
“The impact of harvest losses to Sudan’s annual production adds to food insecurity across many states that are reliant on agriculture as the primary source of income,” says WFP Representative and Country Director Hameed Nuru. “Hermetic storage bags are a simple solution and WFP is promoting them among smallholder farmers while working at the same time on increasing their awareness on post-harvest losses.”
WFP Sudan has reached over 500,000 farmers with a multi-channel Hermetic Storage Communication Campaign in the states of Kassala, Gedarif and White Nile in 2019. The campaigns focused on encouraging farmers to purchase hermetic bags at a cost of US$2.50 each – around US$1 more than the traditional jute bag. The return on investment is US$26 over three years for each bag of 90kg. By the end of 2020, WFP plans to reach more than two million farmers through a national campaign, featuring Sudan’s actor Gamal Hassan Saeed.
“The next step is for the Sudanese private sector to see the business opportunities, invest in simple technologies that will help in reducing post-harvest loss, and be willing to distribute these products along their existing supply chain to reach farmers,” Nuru added.
WFP Sudan works with the private sector, banks and microfinance institutions to create an extensive retail network, with the goal of making profitable and affordable hermetic storage bags available to every smallholder farmer in Sudan. The first private-sector points of sale opened in Gedarif and White Nile states in late 2019.
In addition, WFP Sudan is working with the Agriculture Research Corporation to classify hermetic storage bags as agricultural products which will make them eligible for tax exemption. Tax exemption for hermetic bags is expected to further stimulate the private sector to invest in this new technology.
Addressing the gathering, the Minister of Agriculture Eisa Osman Sharif stressed the importance of the agricultural sector to the national economy: “The agriculture sector is a driving and leading force for development and we are working with WFP on a five-year plan to reduce post-harvest losses and support smallholder farmers.”
Post-harvest food loss is a leading cause of food insecurity for millions of families across the world. Achieving zero hunger by 2030 will require that no more food is lost or wasted. Properly used hermetic household storage units have the potential to increase food availability at the household level, and enable farmers to control timing of crop sales, improving household income.