The challenges of food storage

Monday July 15 2019
farm007 pix

Michael J. Ssali

It is quite frustrating to think of the amount of food produced by struggling smallholder farmers in Uganda and gets lost due to lack of proper storage.
A lot of our poverty and food insecurity reduction efforts ought to be geared towards this big challenge. Food storage is important especially in this era of climate change when farmers can no longer fully trust their own climatic and weather predictions.
Heavy rainstorms, floods, and long droughts have left homesteads in entire villages without food to eat or any surplus to sell.

According to some estimates as much as 30 per cent of the total crop produced in sub-Saharan countries is lost due to poor storage problems.
All households in rural areas need to preserve some of their harvested crops to turn to during lean periods. Many of them depend on stored seed, saved from previous harvests.
In other cases, farmers have to preserve their harvest in anticipation of better prices. Our farmers need sound food preservation and storage education to reduce food loss and poverty.

Teaching crop production alone does not help when the farmers don’t have suitable storage facilities. Most rural farmers keep their surplus harvest in their small and poorly ventilated houses.
Crops such as maize attract rats into the houses which end up feeding on the maize and digging holes in the houses. Pests attack the crops and the household members get inconvenienced living with rats and pests.
For some farmers it may be the case of leaking roofs that spoil the stored crop whose quality and quantity deteriorates, leaving the farmer with hardly any chance of finding buyers for it.

Where some farmers have constructed local or traditional granaries or stores, they are often grass thatched which renders them prone to leaking and other risks such as catching fire.
They are easy to break into by thieves since they don’t have strong doors. They are also constructed in such a way that they cannot store a large amount of grain. They cannot protect crops against pests. All these issues only help to render our rural communities poorer and more food insecure.