Curbing Post Harvest Losses for Food Security: A Survey of Smallholder Farmers in Ethiopia

Robert Agunga, Ruth Sleshi


Reducing post harvest losses (PHL) offers great promise for curbing hunger and reducing food insecurity in Africa.
A World Bank 2011 report on Missing Food estimated that if African farmers can reduce PHL by even one percent
that will be an annual savings of US$40 million for Sub-Saharan Africa alone. Our survey of 88 smallholder
farmers in the Gondar Region of Ethiopia found that farmers faced serious to most serious losses caused by rodents,
birds and the weather. About 46% of the respondents, expressed serious problems with rodents; 54% had serious
problems with birds and even higher numbers, 55% and 63% had serious problems with the weather and pests,
respectively. Another 28.4% of the farmers complained of very serious problems with birds while half of them had
very serious problems with rodents. Many of the PHL problems seem to emanate from poor storage. The University
of Purdue, USA, has invented what it calls the “Purdue Improved Crop Storage Bag,” which is advertised as highly
efficient and relatively inexpensive. We urge agricultural extension systems in Africa to test the effectiveness of this
bag before recommending it to their grain farmers as a means of reducing PHL.

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