POSTHARVEST LOSSES OF RICE AND ITS IMPLICATION ON LIVELIHOOD AND FOOD SECURITY IN AFRICA: THE CASE OF CAMEROON AND THE GAMBIA
By: Amet Sallah | Department of Development Studies | Agriculture and Development
Today, meeting the food demand of a rapidly increasing global population is emerging as a big challenge to mankind. Postharvest losses are one of the major contributing factors to food insecurity and hunger across the developing world. Magnitude of postharvest losses vary considerably across different crops and economies. This study was conducted to examine postharvest losses of rice and the implications on livelihood and food security in Cameroon and the Gambia. It specifically a) evaluates the extent of postharvest losses of rice, b) assess the implications of these losses on livelihood and food security, c) identify causes of postharvest losses and measures put in place to reduce these losses. The study chooses Cameroon because it satisfies only about 28.8 percent of its demand for rice. Majority of the households in rural and urban areas remain vulnerable to food insecurity. The country also spends so much money on imports just like The Gambia, despite endowed with huge potential land suitable for rice production. The study makes use of primary and secondary data. For primary data, semi-structured questionnaires were administered to 250 respondents in North West region of Cameroon and Central River Region of the Gambia. This was complemented with thirty (30) key informant interviews. Findings reveal that threshing stage has the highest quantity of losses occurrence in both countries losing up to 19% and 17%, followed by drying 9.3% and 7%, storage 4.2% and 6%, milling 1.3% and 1% and transportation 1.33.% and 0.8% for The Gambia and Cameroon respectively. The results indicate that postharvest loss reduces income and employability of the people in the study areas. The postharvest loss was constrained by lack of processing equipment, poor infrastructural network systems, lack of appropriate storage system, and inadequate knowledge and skills on postharvest handling and management among others. The study recommend that trainings on postharvest loss reduction techniques and provision of low-cost threshing technologies to farmers by governments/NGOs.
Key words: Postharvest losses, rice, livelihood, food security, Cameroon and The Gambia