Postharvest losses and their determinants: A challenge to creating a sustainable cooking banana value chain in Uganda
This paper (PDF), in the Sustainability journal, utilizes cross-sectional data to determine the extent and factors that are influencing postharvest losses in the cooking-banana value chain in Uganda. Postharvest losses (PHL) result in direct food and income losses to farmers and consumers globally. PHL reduction strategies offer unique opportunities to contribute to sustainable food systems for increased food security and farm incomes for more than 200 million food insecure people in sub-Saharan Africa. Lack of empirical information remains a major challenge to operationalization of PHL reduction strategies in many countries of the region. Results show that 14.9% of all the cooking bananas that are produced in Uganda suffer postharvest deterioration along the value chain (7.2% of the bananas deteriorate completely and have no residual value, while 7.7% deteriorate partially and are sold at discounted prices), mostly affecting retailers. At farm level, female headed households experience more losses than those headed by males. Household headship, household size, proportion of land allocated to banana production, and monthly banana production are the principal determinants of PHL at farm level. At retail level, such losses are mainly determined by sex of the vendor and group membership. The findings call for comprehensive and gender-responsive PHL reduction strategies. There is a need to sensitize key value chain stakeholders on PHL and their economic implications, and to involve them in the co-creation of strategies that are aimed at minimizing such losses. The pay-off of viable, co-designed strategies will come in the form of increased food security, particularly in areas where cooking banana is a staple, and reduced pressure on natural resources as less farmland and inputs are needed. Finally, reduced PHL imply higher value chain efficiency, and, consequently, lower costs that can translate into higher trader margins and lower consumer prices, making banana production more sustainable altogether.