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Post harvest management and food security in Africa

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  1. Introduction
  2. Food security
  3. The post harvest system
  4. Effects of post harvest management on food security
  5. Food availability and access
  6. Usage of food
  7. The way forward
  8. Conclusion
  9. Bibliography

Food security, defined by the World Food Summit of 1996 the situation where ?all people at all times have access to sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life?, is one of the major developmental issues facing developing countries in the world. As part of the millennium development goals, all countries in the world nations are making efforts to reduce security. The issue of food insecurity is most severe in the developing countries, where ironically, greater portions of their populations engage in food production and other agricultural activities. The question therefore is; why are these countries not able to feed their populations when all these numbers of people are engaged in agriculture. This has been the headache of most governments in the developing countries and other development organisations like the United Nations. In an attempt to solve this problem, a great deal of attention is being given to agricultural production, with large sums of moneys being committed to research, provision of equipment, credit facilities for farmers, provision of inputs such as fertilisers and chemicals, and training of farmers.
While agricultural production is being highlighted and given much attention as a way of curbing the food insecurity problem, one important area that seriously requires more attention is the post harvest system. This is because a considerable amount of losses occur at this stage, which when prevented can lead to a significant improvement in food availability. It is estimated that about 25 percent of food produced in Africa is lost in the post harvest chain before they ever get to the consumer.

[...] Post harvest losses may be either qualitative (loss of caloric and nutritive value, loss of acceptability by consumers, and loss of edibility) or quantitative (loss in volume and weight). The concept of food security is based on three pillars, namely, food availability, food access and food use (World Health Organisation, 2009), and all these can be affected by the effectiveness of post harvest management of agricultural produce Effect of Post harvest Management on Food Security Food Availability Food availability refers to the presence of sufficient quantities of food on a consistent basis. [...]

[...] A large portion of the food produced in Africa is lost due to ineffective post harvest management, and this starts right from the farm where the produce is harvested. The factors that lead to these losses are the use of inappropriate harvesting methods, lack of facilities such as transportation equipment, storage facilities, and lack of knowledge about the effects of various post harvest activities and conditions on the quality of produce. Food availability is affected by large quantitative post harvest losses which start right from the farm, where mature produce are harvested and gathered to be transported to the market, processing factories and other destinations. [...]

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