Component 3: Technologies for PHL reduction and value addition.Technologies play a central role in the improvement of the preservation of agricultural produce and, at the same time, to add value.
Under the PHAP, the Bank will promote the dissemination of appropriate technologies for moisture testing, grading, pest control, drying, pre-packing, processing, conservation, extraction and logistics – along with suitable information and communication technologies – as a prerequisite for improving productivity along the value chain.
Component 4: Agricultural Value Chain Governance.
In order to secure the efficiency and the sustainability of physical infrastructure and technology interventions, these have to be complemented with capacity building/software interventions through value chain governance. Key activities will include.
Supporting value chain development: Support will be provided for facilitation and information provision to help in developing productive partnerships between producers and enterprises and among enterprises in value chains. Promotion of value chains will also include regional value chain development for strategic commodities along common agro-ecological zones to complement productivity enhancing technologies with expanding markets.
Development of farmer groups and commodity associations: It is important to strengthen and support the development of producer, commodity and industry associations involving smaller scale farmers, traders, processors, wholesale markets and retailers in order to allow these actors to better exploit market opportunities. Producer organizations, in particular, can strengthen the capacities of farmers to understand and meet market requirements, and can help small producers achieve economies of scale in buying inputs and marketing their products.
Business Development Services (BDS): Interventions are required to promote business development services which support producers and agro-based enterprises that are involved in the agriculture sector. Support to producers and agro-enterprises will include appropriate management assistance and services that help farmers and firms to improve product quality and efficiency, reduce costs, and expand operations. BDS which support enterprises in post-production issues will be supported.
Agricultural market information systems such as commodity prices, trade volumes, and weather conditions play an important facilitating role in improving the performance of the postharvest chain. PHL generally originate at the first stage of the chain, with the producer. Incentives and knowledge for this actor are therefore crucial to reducing losses. Better market information systems offer all in the market chain the opportunity to obtain better prices for their produce.
Activities to be funded will involve provision of hard and soft infrastructure for market information systems, e-wallet and use of smart phones for information dissemination.
Development of grades and standards: Markets for commodities (and their by-products) may suffer from the absence of suitable grades and standards that are relevant to commercial trading both locally and regionally. Often, large traders and warehouse operators find that they cannot supply regional or international markets because producers fail to supply crops of suitable quality. This constraint can only be addressed through implementation of quality standards and the provision of a functioning public infrastructure in the fields of metrology, standardization, testing and quality assurance (MSTQ). PHAP will work with Bureau of Standards in RMCs to secure certification for their products to enhance exports and agri-business promotion.
The Bank will work with UNIDO, Purdue University, FAO and other institutions to develop these standards.
Rural finance: PHAP will collaborate with the Department of Agricultural Finance and Rural Infrastructure Development to create innovative financing mechanisms to operationalize a robust agricultural rural financing to support PHAP activities.
PHL Research: A key constraint hampering interventions to reduce PHL in Africa is the lack of reliable data on the levels of losses for the different commodities. At the moment, agricultural research and extension systems in Africa are heavily focused on production issues such as breeding, agronomy and soil management. The role of research and development in these areas is of prime importance when planning any intervention to reduce losses and enhance agro-processing.
Support and collaboration with research institutions like the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) and the centres associated, such as the International Institute for Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Purdue University with large experience in the development and adaptation of postharvest technologies will be explored.
Damian Ihedioha, PhD is the acting Coordinator of PHAP/Principal Agro- Industry Specialist at AfDB