Growing crops for food is one thing, but for an impoverished farmer this is not the only challenge. What happens to the crops once they have been harvested?
Unfortunately, in Eastern Uganda a substantial portion of harvested crops are lost for lack of proper storage facilities. It is such an unnecessary waste, especially when you consider that just under half of the population live below the poverty line.
Storage and post-harvest management are crucial requirements to get the most out of a crop. The situation in Eastern Uganda could improve if farmers are given the training and equipment to reduce post-harvest grain losses.
Our Uganda team have just started introducing airtight storage units to farmers in the Namutumba district of Eastern Uganda. Reports indicate that up to 40% of crops go bad before leaving the farm gate! This is mainly due to weevil infestation and mould growth. Farmers will have the opportunity to buy the metal silos at a reduced price. They will also receive training in better handling and drying techniques to avoid damage to the grains.
The 3-year project is funded by the UK Department for International Development under their UK Aid programme, which will involve close monitoring and evaluation of the impact. It is expected that there will be multiple benefits, including higher incomes for farmers, improved food security and better child health.
Airtight storage is enhanced by the simple device of placing a candle in the silo before closure: the candle goes out when all the oxygen has been burnt up, and any remaining insects die.