A recent study by ActionAid Nigeria has found that an estimated N3.5 trillion is lost annually across the country due to post-harvest losses in the agricultural sector. This, according to the non-governmental organisation, translates to an average loss of N94.5 billion per state including the Federal Capital Territory.
The study highlighted the significant income loss experienced by smallholder farmers as a result of post-harvest losses, noting that smallholder farmers are already facing many challenges, including limited access to capital, land tenure issues, and climate change, which put additional strain on their livelihoods. It noted further that the additional impact of post-harvest losses surpasses the yearly budgetary allocations for agriculture in each state and poses a serious threat to the country’s food and nutrition security.
ActionAid Nigeria, along with its partners Small-Scale Women Farmers Organisation in Nigeria (SWOFON) and the CAADP Non-State Actors Group (CNG), highlighted the need for urgent action to address the issue of post-harvest losses in the country. This call to action comes as the ongoing food crisis continues to threaten food security and put pressure on the already fragile agricultural sector. The coalition emphasised the need for a coordinated and collaborative approach to tackling post-harvest losses, including strengthening the capacities of farmers and relevant stakeholders.
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At a press conference held in Abuja, representatives from SWOFON and CNG discussed the challenges and opportunities for reducing these losses, as well as the need for greater cooperation among the various actors in the sector. The press conference which brought together stakeholders from various organisations and institutions to highlight the need for concerted action on post-harvest losses,also highlighted the importance of including smallholder farmers, women, and other vulnerable groups in policy and decision-making processes.
As highlighted by the SWOFON representatives, access to key facilities and resources is severely limited for smallholder women farmers, contributing to high levels of post-harvest losses. The statistics presented show that less than half of smallholder women farmers have access to storage and processing facilities, and even fewer have access to transportation, markets, and training. These limitations make it difficult for women farmers to sell their crops at a fair price and lead to losses that could have otherwise been prevented.
The coalition called for a change in the way agriculture is approached, focusing on investments in infrastructure and rural development. It emphasized the need for a state of emergency to address the food and nutrition security crisis, with a specific focus on reducing post-harvest losses. This, they said,could involve improving access to technologies and resources that help farmers prevent losses, such as improved storage facilities, efficient transportation, and processing equipment.
The statement by SWOFON women farmers emphasized the detrimental impact of post-harvest losses on smallholder farmers, particularly women, who may be more vulnerable to the financial losses and additional hardships associated with these losses. They urged the government to prioritize efforts to reduce post-harvest losses, emphasizing its critical role in achieving food and nutrition security.
The coalition highlighted the importance of establishing small, localized processing and storage facilities for various commodities, rather than relying solely on large-scale facilities. They maintained that this approach would be more effective in serving farmers in remote areas who may not have access to the large-scale facilities, adding that it would also allow for a more decentralized and locally-focused approach to reducing post-harvest losses.