It has been estimated that one-third of the food that is grown for human consumption around the world is lost after it is harvested.
This waste is thought to be more common in Africa, which has a negative effect on food security, nutrition, and the economy.
In Nigeria, for instance, the majority of people depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, yet most smallholder farmers and their families are trapped in poverty.
With Nigeria’s growing population, it is crucial that small-scale farmers are well equipped to make the transition to commercial production.
This will improve their own livelihoods and help to ensure food security.
Another important thing to do to cut down on post-harvest losses is to make sure that all the activities in the agricultural value chain work together to cut down on post-harvest losses.
These activities include the need to take advantage of loss-reducing strategies, linking smallholder farmers to consistent market demand, access to finance, investment in new technologies, and appropriate training for farmers.
The yearly amount of post-harvest losses is enough to feed the total number of undernourished people globally.
Unfortunately, over 230 million people in sub-Saharan Africa are estimated to be suffering from chronic undernourishment even as 30–50% of agricultural production is lost at various points along the agricultural value chain.
A reduction in post-harvest losses will be a good way to improve food security around the world.
One of the solutions that will address this issue in Nigeria is adopting a cold storage chain solution, especially for agricultural produce like vegetables and tomatoes, and the processing technology.
The need to store vegetables for a long time after harvest will, in no small part, help smallholder farmers and their families make more money and have a better quality of life.
The inability of farmers to store vegetables for a longer time, especially when there is enough availability, is an important factor.
This will help them have vegetables to sell during periods of low availability at better prices.
However, this remains a challenge for food security and is one of the reasons why farmers are unable to meet their financial needs.
It also hinders them from funding irrigation activities that would have enabled them to produce during the dry season.
The lack of cold chain storage facilities in Nigeria has led to monumental post-harvest losses, thereby impacting negatively on the farmers.
This has perpetually kept farmers in poverty and reduced their ability to attract finance for scaling up.
The provision of efficient cold storage and processing facilities will ensure huge production and boost the income of smallholder farmers.
In addition, access to finance from financial institutions and government investment in this regard will change the fortunes of smallholder farmers and boost food security.
Furthermore, investment inappropriate technologies, as well as regulating temperature and humidity in storage levels, is very important. Storage of vegetables in moisture-proof containers helps in reducing post-harvest losses.
Finally, government agencies and parastatals should look in this direction to provide the needed infrastructure and support for farmers to reduce post-harvest losses.