Sudan: Affordable solutions reduce food losses and increase income

“I can now store food for longer and sell any surplus at the local market when prices are high.”

Hermetic (airtight) bags for the effective storage of grains and pulses are issued to farmers in Nyala in South Darfur. Photo: WFP/Mohamed Elamin

By Pratibedan Baidya

Mohamed is one of over 10,000 farmers in the food insecure Darfur region of western Sudan who are benefiting from the World Food Programme’s (WFP) initiatives to reduce post-harvest losses.

It is estimated that over 30 percent of food — the equivalent of about US$4 billion — is lost annually in sub-Saharan Africa due to poor harvesting techniques such as inadequate drying, processing and storage of crops.

For farmers in Darfur — a region affected by decades of intercommunal violence, climate shocks, economic crisis and rising food prices — lost food means lost land, water, fertilizers, and income.

Poor harvests are also significantly affecting people’s access to food. Sudan’s cereal production from the 2021–22 agricultural season is expected to produce 5.1 million tons — only enough to cover the needs of less than two-thirds of the population — according to a recent report by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

Hermetic bags, silos and tarpaulins are simple and affordable technologies which can help farmers like Mohamed (R) to effectively harvest, dry, and store their crops and reduce food losses. Photos: WFP/Mohamed Elamin (L), Alessandro Abbonizio (C)

Thanks to generous support from the European Union, WFP is training smallholder farmers like Mohamed in best harvesting practices combined with the use of affordable and effective hermetic (airtight) storage solutions.

The farmers are provided with tarpaulins for harvesting and drying of crops and silos and hermetic bags for storage. This means Mohamed can safely store his harvests of sorghum and groundnuts for longer and sell when prices are higher.

“I am now able to feed my family and pay for my children to go to school,” he says.

According to a WFP study conducted in February 2022, the introduction of effective harvesting and storage solutions by participating farmers saw a reduction in post-harvest losses from as much as 40 percent down to just 2 percent.

This has resulted in increased food security at the household level, more income for farmers and greater availability of food for the surrounding communities.

An estimated 30 percent of food in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost annually to due to poor harvesting techniques. Hermetic bags are an affordable solution for farmers to effectively store crops. Photo: WFP/Mohamed Elamin

WFP is actively engaging with the private sector to manufacture and distribute hermetic bags at affordable prices to every smallholder farmer in Sudan in a bid to improve food security and incomes by reducing post-harvest losses.

The European Union’s, Directorate-General for International Partnerships provides multi-year funding towards WFP’s “Fostering smallholder capacities and access to markets in food-insecure areas of Darfur” project, which aims to reduce post-harvest losses for 63,000 farmers across Central, West, and South Darfur states by December 2022.

Other contributors to reducing post-harvest losses in Sudan include the Governments of France, Germany, Sweden and the USA.

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