On 27-28 February, 2019
More than 40% of fruits and vegetables produced can be lost before reaching the end user through the post-harvest activities such as; harvesting, handling, transporting, sorting, packaging, storage etc. Reducing the post-harvest losses of fresh produce is an important aspect for sustainable agriculture development efforts to increase food availability and security.
Rwanda Agriculture and Animal Resources Development Board (RAB) through Reducing Postharvest Losses in Rwanda Project organized a two days training to RAB staff, NGO representatives and the District Directors in charge of Agriculture and Natural Resources from Southern and Western provinces.
The training focused on how best to reduce post-harvest loss through better storage management practices and technologies as a way of addressing the challenges. Among the challenges faced are; lack of basic knowledge on how to develop, implement, use appropriate handling techniques and adequate extension services to increase farmer’s skills on affordable post-harvest practices, lack of market accessibility leading to the need of storage, lack of proper packaging and storage, absence of appropriate on-farm practices of harvesting and storage facilities that hinders the successful production.
Trainees were shown various ways of reducing post-harvest losses and storage handling of fruits and vegetables by using the affordable Zero Energy Cooling Chamber (ZECC) to increase the shelf-life of their fresh produce, how farmers can be equipped with modern storage infrastructure that ensures quality along the value chain. With temperatures ranging between 13 and 18oC, and humidity levels of about 95 per cent, she said, the cool chamber keeps fruits and vegetables safe. Outdoor temperatures usually range between 20-28o C, which drains the water from fruits and vegetables within in a few days. The technology, dubbed Zero-energy Cool Chamber (ZECC), is seen as a timely boost to horticulture farmers who have been losing up to 40 per cent of their produce through post-harvest handling. ZECC is constructed through basic technology using bricks, sand and wood, the system does not require electricity to operate, which makes it cost effective for farmers.