07 Feb Enhancing uptake of Climate Resilience and post-harvest handling technologies by smallholder farmers
Smallholder farmers in Uganda are increasingly facing a wide range of agricultural production risks—climate and non-climate related risks. For instance, low productivity can be attributed to non-climatic factors such as limited use of external inputs or nutrient mining and soil erosion, as well as climate-related droughts, and pests and diseases. In recent years, weather patterns have become more erratic, impacting negatively on soil moisture content leading to either reduced yields or total crop failure (Mubiru et al., 2012, Mubiru et al., 2009).
NARO scientists have been researching the effects of climate change on farmer livelihoods, leading to the development of technologies that can help smallholder farmers in Uganda enhance their resilience to climate change. They have been able to develop technologies like Solar Tent Dryers, Charcoal Evapo coolers, Cocoons, Metal Silos and Hermetic bag (Super bag) to help smallholder farmers adapt to climate change.
Farmers have also received training on how to use each of the above technologies,how to maintain them and the importance of building household resilience to mitigate the effects that climate change could have on them. Farmers from the parishes of Kasambya, Kigege, Mifunya, Bulwadda, Kyamutakasa and Kassaga in Nakaseke district have been the beneficiaries of these climate change adaptation technologies and post-harvest handling training.
NARO was able to put up post-harvest handling centres at three locations in Bulwadda, Kyamutakasa and Kassaga, with capacity for drying, storage and good post-harvest practices to ensure minimum loss for farmer produce. These post-harvest centres have led to a decrease in post-harvest losses with farmers able to store cleaner and higher quality grain without any mould, dirt or stones because the practice of drying harvests on bare ground is no longer being done. This translates to more value for the grain hence more money for the farmers.
Post-harvest losses affect quality and quantity of produce and this eventually affects access to better markets, prices, results in loss of revenue and real income for different value chain actors and reduces the country’s overall national income.
High food losses result from poor post-harvest handling practices (poor drying and high moisture content at the time of storage) inadequate and inappropriate storage facilities, limited value-addition, filth and contamination, poor marketing systems, damage by insects, rodents and other pests and infestation by micro-organisms especially fungus that leads to aflatoxin.
Food losses contribute to and exacerbate hunger situations, poverty and food insecurity. Currently, annual post-harvest loss stands at 17.6 per cent for about 2.8million metric tonnes (MT), 12.4 per cent of about 214 000MT and 13.5 per cent of 230,000MT of maize, millet and rice produced in the country respectively. (FAO Uganda, 2019)
A total of 900 farmers have so far been trained over a 4 year period and they are reaping the benefits of climate smart farming. A beneficiary farmers says, ‘I kept about 1000kg of maize in a silo and sold it six months later. Over that period, the price of maize rose from Shs 400 per kg to Shs1000, thus earning me UGX 1,000,000/= instead of UGX 400,000/=. This is testimony to the increase in economic returns to small holder farmers as a result of getting training on good post-harvest practices that lead to quality produce that fetch high returns in the market.