Tanzania, together with its five East African Community siblings, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Burundi and South-Sudan record huge post-harvest losses in annual food produce from farms.
Experts warn that, the entire East African Region sends down the drain more than 70 percent of its total fruits and vegetable harvest every year, yet rushes to import foreign packaged fruits juice, tomato ketchups and vegetable based sauces.
And as if that isn’t enough, East Africa again loses 50 percent of the region’s annual roots and tubers’ harvests as well as 30 percent of harvested cereals per annum.
Well, as far as the East African Community’s Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Productive and Social Sectors, Christophe Bazivamo, is concerned, unavailable or poor storage facilities is behind the drastic fresh food loss.
East Africans, according to observers, need to deploy better storage and processing technologies and enhanced packaging techniques to ensure food security and result in higher earnings for farmers and Small and medium enterprises.
The EAC has so far established a public private sector fruits and vegetables platform to drive faster development in the sector.
“In our recently adopted fruits and vegetables strategy and post-harvest loss management action plan we aim to unlock this potential by, among other things, pursuing best practices in contract farming, productivity, inputs; utilization of modern and new technologies, capacity building.”Christopher Bazivamo
The EAC claims to be keen on improving agro-specific infrastructure like collection centres, sorting, pack houses, cold storages; refrigeration tanks; development of cold rooms, supply of processing machineries, competitive ocean and air freight services.
Also seen to be critically important in reducing post-harvest losses is the promotion of the packaging, branding and display sectors.
Agriculture continues to play an important role in the region as the sector employs the highest number of East Africans and contributes over 20 percent to the Gross Domestic Product of the EAC.