Sector Feature: Storage

While several tools and technologies are in place to aid in crop storage, there is still room for investment that can lead to even more effective crop storing within the larger agricultural value chain. According to a Foods article study, “more than one-third of food is lost or wasted in post-harvest operations,” and resolving this issue could lead to resolving global food insecurity. The African Agriculture Status Report explains that progress has been made to “reduce spoilage, wastage, and eventual loss of food after harvest” through technologies like hermetic bags, plastic silos, metal silos, ZeroFly Bags, low energy cooling facilities and collection centers. However, more smallholder farmers need to be included in these practices, especially in the form of on-site storage facilities to increase crop retention. Storage capacities like airtight silos and post-harvest bags suffocate pests, limit exposure to moisture, and prolong the shelf life of crops produced by farmers, essentially allowing them to sell their products for longer periods of time well after harvest.

Though the causes for post-harvest loss vary, this data from the Food and Agriculture Organization shows that much of the loss occurs soon after harvest. In the case of cereals and grains, nearly half of the loss is caused by handling and storage.

In a study conducted by the Eastern Africa Grain Council, results revealed that the implementation of Structured Grain Trading System benefited a Kenyan farming committee because of their use of a Warehouse Receipt System, and they emphasize the importance of storage through its placement on the list below. In short, the WRS provided:

  1. Access to improved storage that ensured grain quality
  2. Support from the EAGC
  3. Access to credit facilities
  4. Better pricing

Better storage processes and facilities advance the possibilities of a strong agricultural market for smallholder farmers. With quality crops that last for longer periods, farmers are able to maintain stable incomes with competitive prices.

A FAO report provides a list of requirements for quality storage, including easy maintenance, little to no moisture, protection from pests, and temperature. Additionally, what is clear about the various methods of storage and other sectors within agriculture is that the successful farmer has access to at least one efficient method of storing his or her product. If the farmer lacks technology, finances, or even the knowledge for ways in which to successfully store his or her crop, he or she is more likely to face challenges in agricultural advancement. Rural communities in Sub-Saharan Africa need the means to produce and store their crops in order to benefit from the advantages of agribusiness.