‘Post-harvest losses preoccupy ministry‘

19Oct 2020
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
‘Post-harvest losses preoccupy ministry‘

​​​​​​​THE government is working around the clock to reduce post-harvest crop losses by 50 percent in five years to come, a move tied to objectives of the 2014 Malabo Declaration and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) on poverty and hunger eradication by 2030.

Japhet Hasunga.

Pre- and post- harvest losses reduce by up to 40 percent of the total annual crop production, on the basis of 2013 data from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The biggest losses occur in fruits, vegetables, root and tuber crops on account of being perishable, worsened by poor post-harvest infrastructures and handling methods.

Gerald Kusaya, the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, made this observation on the World Food Day commemoration event held at the national level in Njombe on Friday, where this year’s theme was  ‘Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together.’

This year’s World Food Day is celebrated at a period when countries around the world are putting more emphasis on improving food security and nutrition, he said, noting that these efforts are intended to take stock of population increase, with Tanzania expected to have close to 80m people by 2030, by current statistics.

 “Various interventions by the government, stakeholders and development partners aim at ensuring a positive ratio between food production and the growing population,” the top ministerial official indicated..  

The Malabo Declaration demands that African countries reduce post-harvest losses by 50 percent up to 2025, while the SDGs prioritise eradication of poverty and hunger by 2030.

The government in collaboration with stakeholders developed the National Post-Harvest Management Strategy (NPHMS) to be implemented over ten years from 2018 to 2027.l It focuses on food crops like cereals, while addressing harvesting bottlenecks with legumes, fruits, vegetables plus roots and tubers, apart from edible oil crops.

In his address, agro-sector minister Japhet Hasunga said the government has in the past five years allowed farmers to sell their crops including maize outside the country. This situation has contributed to reducing inflation to 3.86 percent on average this year, compared to 5.59 percent in 2015.

 “We have improved our permit issuance systems. Farmers can now access electronic export permits at their nearest border posts. Crop exporters are no longer required to physically visit the ministry’s head offices,” he stated.

Minister Hasunga said the agriculture sector has recorded a number of successes in five years, employing more than 65 percent of the country’s workforce and contributing 30 percent to national income. The   sector contributes close to 65 percent of industrial raw materials and 100 percent of local food consumption, he elaborated.

He said the government is working to improve food security as well as nutrition through implementation of the National Multisectoral Nutrition Action Plan, 2016/2017- 2020/2021 and the Agriculture Sector Development Programme II (ASDP II).)

The government also launched the Biofortification Guidelines during the Farmers’ Day exhibition this year, the minister noted.

At the Njombe event, the minister launched eight guidelines for vegetables and horticultural crops as well as seven guidelines on application of agricultural technologies.

Zlatan Milišić, United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP representative, described Tanzania as a globally recognized country for innovations to boost multisectoral nutrition governance.

“High-level political commitment is the main driver of nutrition improvement, and the country generates enough data to monitor and evaluate performance of the nutrition programme. We need to continue investing in nutrition. It has enormous socio-economic benefits and can be a key accelerator for development and for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals,” he said.

He assured that the United Nations will continue to work closely with the government and communities to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition. “The UN is committed to providing quality nutrition and health services, and promoting optimal breastfeeding, along with adequate and safe complementary feeding for children,” he added.