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Crop conditioning lessons for Ugandan farmers

 

Crop storage, so crucial to keeping grains in good shape until the best market price can be found, is often not practiced in East Africa. Farmers there cite several reasons for quickly selling their harvest: immediate cash demands, unpredictable future prices, or simple lack of storage capacity. Adding to the uncertainty is a lack of understanding of post-harvest crop conditioning: threshing, winnowing, drying and how to keep grains safe from pests, moisture and mold -- all necessary steps to getting a good price.

Recap session at training for farmers working with Upland Rice MillersRecap session at training for farmers working with Upland Rice MillersIn December, USAID's Market Linkages Initiative (managed by CARANA) conducted three training courses in post-harvest handling and storage in central and southeastern Uganda. The trainings for a total of 193 lead farmers and extension agents were held in three firms and cooperatives that have extensive bulk storage capacity and the combined potential to reach thousands of farmers in maize, rice, beans and sorghum.

Among other lessons, participants learned the importance of using moisture meters to dry crops to acceptable levels, the fatal danger of unseen aflatoxins on infected grain, and the need for keeping warehouse records at village aggregation centers that feed into bulk storage centers.

In the Kapeeka District, one trainee summed up the impact these practices could have: “With proper crop conditioning practices, farmers in the near term will have adequate income to assist him to pay school fees for his children, medical expenses, clothing and better nutrition as well as save money to help invest in building better houses and acquiring other assets, like land and bicycles. Life will be better!"

Published February 2011