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We must procure PH Mechanization tools to facilitate crop harvest – Dr Sugri

Food Crops
Food Crops

Dr Issah Sugri, a Researcher at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, Manga Agricultural Research Station in the Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region has reiterated the need for the procurement of small post -harvest mechanization (PH Mechanization) tools to facilitate small and medium scale holder farmers harvest of crops.

He indicated that such equipment, mostly procured by the Ministry of Food and Agriculture (MoFA) for farmers benefited large scale farmers and were too expensive for the rural small-scale farmers.

He urged MoFA to procure equipment that would support all categories of farmers, especially women who were sometimes left behind because of their inability to buy simple tools to facilitate the harvesting of their farm produce, thereby, causing delays after they were matured on the farm.

That he said, led to high post- harvest losses and other food safety problems such as aflatoxin contamination in the grain.

Dr Sugri was speaking in an interview with the Ghana News Agency after the training of Agricultural Extension Officers (AEOs) in Bolgatanga on trends in Post- Harvest mechanization for sustainable crop production.
The AEOs were drawn from all the districts in the region and the programme was funded by the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture( IITA )- Africa RISING Project and the Feed the Future -USAID.

Dr Sugri said activities of harvesting were mostly done by women and youth in northern Ghana, and noted that access to improved mechanization would reduce cost of labour, drudgery on the women, and improve efficiency of grain shelling.

Dr Sugri said PH mechanization such as shelling machines were unavailable due to high cost of the machines and since women were involved, most of them were unable to afford.

“If these problems are not addressed by the stakeholders, the drudgery and the manual operations would continue with consequences of low efficiency and high food losses”, The researcher added.

“Post- harvest loss is very high but if farmers use simplified implements and shelling machines, they are able to improve quality, reduce drudgery and reduce the risk of aflatoxin contamination which would have a long-term effect on food safety, farmers’ income and food security”, he added.

Dr Sugri who shared research findings conducted in the Binduri District, Kassena Nankana Municipality in the Upper East Region, and Savelugu and Karaga in the Northern Region, said 77.8 per cent were small holder farmers with farm size of 0.5 -5 hectares in Upper East.

He explained that they recorded low yield of 0.79tonnes per hectare as compared with their counterparts in Karaga District, where huge fertile arable land still existed, and they produce high yields of 1.26 tonnes per hectare where huge fertile arable lands still exist.

He noted that the main weakness in the use of multi-threshers was the presence of grain impurities such as chaff and broken grains compared to manual operations.

“Most of the manual postharvest operations are carried out by women, which is a trend that requires efforts to reduce the burden on women.”

Dr Sugri stated that the objectives of PH technology are to reduce loss in quantity and, maintain the quality value of produce in terms of nutrition, color, taste, flavor and aroma, and increase shelf-life of produce.

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