Abdoulai G. Dibba
The Department of Agriculture under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture, has organized a five-day training in Post-Harvest Loss Reduction Management and Technique for Agricultural Extension workers and processors.
The training started on Monday 30th October 2017, at a local hotel in Bijilo.
According to the organisers, the objective of the training is to build the capacity of both the extension officers and entrepreneurs who are actors on the value chain, to work towards improving food security by using improved techniques and management of reducing Post-Harvest losses in the Gambia, Indonesia and Nigeria respectively.
“The COMCEC (The Standing committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation), has provided the fund for the training through GAMAGRIC-253,” states the Organisers.
In her welcome statement, Ramatoulie Hydara-Sanyang stated that post-harvest loss reduction is aimed at promoting food security, alleviate poverty, create income generation opportunities, foster economic growth of African countries and the entire Islamic Umma.
She said post-harvest loss is especially critical for grain cereals, pulses and oil seeds because these constitute the predominant staples of many African communities.
Madam Hydara-Sanyang noted that when loss in nutritional value and market opportunities are factors in the adverse effects on the health of the population consuming poor quality products, the need for intervention to reduce post-harvest loss becomes obviously clear.
Ag. Ddeputy Director, DoA, Saryan Jobarteh in his opening statement, said handling and processing commodities requires the necessary technical knowledge and expertise. He went on to say researchers on post-harvest issues are very scarce in the Gambia and the benefits that can be gained from them are poorly acknowledge. In this respect he said, identifying the specific causes of post-harvest losses through producing and prioritizing the data related to the post-harvest losses in strategic commodities are crucial for ensuring food security.
On the other hand ADG Jobarteh went on to say, relevant sectors do not have the necessary institutional mechanisms to directly deal with the levels and specific causes of post-harvest losses and that in this regard, establishing coordinating mechanisms would be very instrumental for identifying causes of post-harvest losses, sharing the good practices and raising awareness.
Acting DG of the Department of Agriculture indicated that significant potential exists in the Gambia to enhance the income of the farmers and engage them in more resilient, sustainable and productive agricultural practices and that domestic demand for rice and other strategic products also offers a significant potential for commercialization. Currently he said, a large part of useful foreign exchange is spent on imports of these items which can be sustained by enhancing domestic production, processing and establishing functional local markets especially for rice; that ensuring better post-harvest management, would decrease post-harvest losses and secure stock preservation in the event of future disasters, thus contributing to food security and disaster risk mitigation in rural communities.
ADG Jobarteh informed participants that the overall purpose of this project is to improve food security and rural livelihood by introducing better post-harvest loss reduction, its management and techniques for cereals therefore, from this Training of Training producers or farmer and the rest of the Value chain actors, the beneficiaries should be made aware of post-harvest reduction techniques and management to increase revenues (in cash and or in kind) for all the chain actors.
Moving towards the conclusion, Jobarteh revealed that last year, the department of Agriculture under the Ministry has signed a project with the Standing committee for economic and commercial cooperation of the organization of Islamic cooperation (COMCEC) called GAMAgric- 253 and that the expected outcome of GAMAGRIC- 253 is to:
1. At least train 25 Technical Staff and 25 entrepreneurs in cost effective post-harvest technologies, needs analysis, market survey analysis and effective extension of information to farmers.
2. Establish a network of post-harvest practitioners that will continue to build post-harvest information and technology, share market Intelligence and deliver information to poor farmers;
3. Reduce losses due to poor post-harvest techniques usually results in spoilage, wastage and quality deterioration.