A new initiative was on Wednesday launched in Kigali amidst efforts to address challenges of post harvest losses for potatoes and other perishables currently accounting for 40 percent on the continent.
The initiative, one million tons of cold storage will see African farmers reduce on wasted resources while increasing returns on investment as result of proper storage facilities for the perishables.
“The initiative will allow farmers to decide on when they need to put their produce on the market and have a greater negotiating power for greater incomes,” said Dr Agnes Kalibata, President of Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) on Wednesday.
The launch happened on the sidelines of the World economic Forum on Africa –WEF Africa2016 going on from May 11-13 in Kigali which has brought together over 1,200 business, political, policy making and other leaders to discuss current economic and social issues, problems, ideas and possible solutions.
The initiative which is expected Public Private Partnership between AGRA and UPL from India and governments of three countries is expected tomobilize U$ 2 Billion in the next decade to create integrated value chains and set up one million tons of cold storage facilities across Sub-Saharan Africa.
Kabalita says that despite the recent efforts to close some of the barriers in the value chain such as increasing access to insurance products and boosting productivity, functional cod chains handling fresh produce at a large scale remain a challenge.
“The partnership aims to revolutionize African agriculture and bring it on par with the rest of the world through the creation of innovative supply chains and energy efficient cold storage systems,” she said
Currently, work for the construction of three cold storage projects in progress in Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda and is expected to be fully operational by 2017.
Jai Shroff, Chief Executive Officer UPL Limited from India notes that the lack of cold storages has been an impediment towards income growth as most farmers take their produce from garden to market as they try to avoid losses.
“The lack of these facilities have been forcing farmers in sub Saharan Africa to sell their products pre-maturely at lower prices which affects their incomes,” he said adding that the initiatives is looking for more partners to set up industries that would buy the stored produce.
The Minister of Agriculture and Animal resources Dr Geraldine Mukeshima said that the initiative will contribute to government’s efforts of boosting agriculture productivity.
“Rwanda is the largest producer of potatoes but we have been facing a challenge of cold storages for the produce which affect our harvests,” she said.
The initiative is expected to reach over 15 million farmers in a decade while it also targets to benefit nearly 100 million people through value addition and reduction in post-harvest losses.