A two day high level forum, being jointly hosted by the African Union Commission and the Food and Agriculture Organisation in Addis Ababa, is deliberating on means to enhance national and regional capacity building to reduce post-harvest losses (PHL) in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA), in support of the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP). The AU Commission is represented at the high level forum by Dr Yemi Akinbamijo, Head of Division in the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture, who delivered the opening address on behalf of Commissioner Rhoda Peace Tumussiime. He highlighted that “significant amounts of food continue to be lost after harvest, thereby aggravating food insecurity and resulting in inputs such as seeds, fertilizer, irrigation water and human labour being wasted”.PHL refers to the losses that occur along the food chain, from farm to fork, in the handling, storage, transportation, and processing which contribute to a reduction in the quality, quantity and market value of agricultural commodities. An FAO/ World Bank study conducted in 2011 estimated post-harvest grain losses in SSA at $4billion a year, enough to meet the annual requirements of about 48 million people.
The high level forum’s discussions will contribute to the implementation of a project formulated by the AUC and FAO known as the “AUC/FAO Support to Capacity Building to Reduce Post Harvest Losses”. The project aims to strengthen the capacity of senior policy makers in the design of policies, strategies and programmes targeting increased investments in PHL reduction; and to sensitize senior technical officials of ministries of agriculture, livestock, fisheries, trade and industries, national research organizations and other public and private institutions involved in post-harvest issues in the identification, design and implementation of country level projects in PHL reduction and introducing to them, methodologies and tools for conducting PHL assessment.
Food security is a key priority of the African Union, which, through the CAADP programme and other initiatives, aims to ensure that Africa is able to feed itself, save on the resources it is currently spending on food imports and have surplus for export. In her recent installation speech delivered on 15 October, the Chairperson of the AU Commission Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma emphasized the importance of activities related to food security, through the CAADP programme.
“Access to food is the most basic right. No nation or continent can develop to its full potential if cannot feed itself. The continent and AU have taken decisions on these measures, and we know there is the CAADAP programme. We must accelerate its implementation”.
Source: African Union Commission (AUC) – Press Release – 18 October 2012