Post-harvest losses: Global scale, solutions, and relevance to Ghana
This report (PDF) by IFPRI focuses on post-harvest losses (PHL) in the horticulture sector of Ghana to quantify the extent and drives of loss of specific crops in specific contexts to identify the most cost-effective solution. Horticulture is an important sub-sector in Ghana’s agricultural economy with great growth potential, so returns to PHL prevention are expected to be high. PHL in the mango value chain is 20-50%, due to fruit fly presence, host of diseases, lack of cold chain facilities and long transit time. For tomatoes its about 10-30%, due to poor handling, transport damage, lack of infrastructure limiting their market accessibility. PHL can be addressed at different stages of the value chain. Innovations to reduce PHL can start before farm-level with development of varieties that have longer shelf-lives while maintaining their properties. Simple and cheap technologies that fit in with the existing value chain and marketing system have a high adoption rate and are sustainable in the long term. To ensure that practices and technologies to reduce PHL are adopted, policy makers must take into account economic and behavioural factors that influence farmers’ decision making. Three bottlenecks to adoption are risk aversion, timing of cash availability and need for technology, and over-valuing the present. Furthermore, coordination within and across stages in value chain is critical for the reduction of PHL. Improving postharvest management is thus of importance and reduction of PHL depends on simultaneous mobilization of key actors. When production is highly concentrated among a small number of farmers within a small geographical area, incentives may exist for the private sector to invest in making value chains more efficient. When private sector lacks sufficient capacity, public sector and non-profit actors can facilitate coordination among value chain actors and leverage private incentives that do exist. A critical role for the public sector is the provision of quality transportation infrastructure and electrification. Finally, gender has often been overlooked in PHL research.