Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

From 2012 to 2020, Helvetas implemented a regional program on Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa under the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation’s (SDC) Global Programme Food Security (GPFS).

  • Project Name
    SDC GPFS Postharvest in SSA
  • Project Phase
    2017 to 2020
  • Funding
    This is an SDC mandate
  • Thematic focus
    Private Sector Development

The work of Helvetas rests on strong and long-standing experience in the field of sustainable agriculture, food security, value chain development, local markets, postharvest management and rural advisory services. Under the mandate of Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), we carried out the following functions:

  • Manage and supervise the project, ensure monitoring, reporting and coordination with national and regional implementing partners (FANRPAN, AFAAS, Agridea).
  • Provide technical expertise and advice to project teams on effective postharvest management, storage technologies, food and nutrition security and value chain analysis.
  • Train and guide partners in applying a market systems development approach (MSD) throughout the project.
  • Bring in know-how on innovative Rural Advisory Services (RAS) and methodologies to promote postharvest management broadly among key target groups in SSA.
  • Facilitate the transfer of existing know-how from international experiences in Postharvest Management to the project and ensure broad sharing of knowledge developed in the context of this project through events, online platforms and documentation.

The overall objective of the project

… was to increase food security of smallholder farmers through reduced postharvest losses of grains and pulses at farm and community level. Benin and Mozambique were focus countries, while wider dissemination of experience and policy messages was ensured in several other SSA countries. 

The project applied a two-pronged strategy: a) Ensuring food supply in households and communities through improved postharvest management; and b) Postharvest management as a commercial activity for income generation through improved food quality and market access.

Intervention strategy

The project intervened at the following levels:

  • Promising postharvest practices and technologies were validated on-farm with support from local research institutes, including harvesting, threshing, drying and storage.
  • Successfully tested practices were documented and dissemination tools and methodologies developed. Capacities of local stakeholders were built, and relevant knowledge inserted into key institutions, e.g. producer organizations, extension service providers, agricultural schools, small agro-businesses, NGOs, governments.
  • The project facilitated market partnerships between producers, traders and buyers of new postharvest technologies such as metal silos and hermetic bags to boost local markets of these innovations.
  • Based on the evidence from the field, advocacy campaigns and policy dialogues were conducted at the local, national and regional level to embed postharvest management more strongly in policies and regulatory frameworks.

Key achievements of the project

  • 11’106 small farmer households (35% women-led) have reduced food loss by adopting effective postharvest management practices. Through this, each household achieved an average additional income of 200-250 US$ per year.
  • 13 producer groups in Benin adopted collective food storage schemes (warrantage), enhancing their access to markets, food quality and long-term food security.
  • New hermetic storage technologies (hermetic bags, metal silos) were introduced as a market innovation in Northern Mozambique. Local agro-retailers have established distribution networks for these technologies, and demand from farmers is growing strongly.
  • Postharvest management was integrated as mandatory expertise in training courses of all 12 agricultural technical schools in Benin countrywide, and in 9 agricultural schools and universities in Mozambique.
  • Governments of both countries commit to new policies on food loss reduction and postharvest management. In Mozambique, a new standalone National Postharvest Mangement Strategy was established (2020).
  • Postharvest management is today integral part of regional policy discourses in Sub-Saharan Africa and has entered regional extension services networks as key expertise.

Further information and resources



© Helvetas / Narendra Shrestha

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