Post-harvest handling practices and associated food losses and limitations in the sweetpotato value chain of southern Ethiopia
This article in NJAS (the Journal of the Royal Netherlands Society for Agricultural Sciences) states that establishing links between value chain constraints and food losses is essential to developing effective alleviation strategies. This study focuses on the post-harvest handling practices associated with food losses in the sweetpotato value chain of southern Ethiopia. Household food insecurity is a chronic problem in Ethiopia; the situation is being exacerbated by high population growth rates and recurring droughts in the country. The interest to address post-harvest value chain (VC) constraints leading to food losses has increased significantly to provide adequate nutrition to the growing population. In this study, mapping of sweetpotato VC not only quantifies the degree of losses but establish links between distinct VC constraints and respective food losses and limitations. Harvest and handling at farm level and shelf life issues at distribution were identified as vulnerable hot-spots of the sweetpotato food losses. Apart from physical and biological factors, demand and supply mismatch during the main harvest season at the wet markets leads to food (up to 25%) and economic losses (33–75%) followed by deficiencies in the lean season. A multi-stakeholder cooperation is required to mitigate food losses, which can have a high impact on the nutritional and financial status of the producers, market operators, and the consumers.