Rwanda’s Agricultural Export Development Board (NAEB) has advised small scale local farmers in horticulture to embrace the necessary techniques to curb post-harvest losses. A joint assessment by the University of Rwanda (UR), Rwanda Agriculture Board (RAB) and National Agriculture Exports Development Board (NAEB), made clear that post-harvest losses in fruit and vegetable farming were estimated at 40 percent.
“We advise farmers, especially those who work on a small scale to embrace available affordable technologies as a way of reducing apparent post-harvest losses,” Vincent Gasasira, Cold Chain Specialist in NAEB told The New Times. “Cold rooms can’t be affordable to everyone because of the high costs involved, especially the electricity costs.”
But, he said, there are preservation facilities that use solar energy, charcoal cool rooms and zero energy cool chambers that are efficient and more affordable. The zero-energy storage is constructed through basic technology using bricks, sand and wood. It costs about Rwf 53,100 (€50) all expenses inclusive.
Gasasira also said that: “These technologies are being disseminated to farmers through several campaigns, but we are still facing challenges of some farmers who want to always get free things, a mindset that needs to be changed.” “Packaging containers have to also be prioritised, because they reduce damages and unfavourable temperature during transportation.”
A recent study revealed that among the practices that lead to poor handling include; overloading during transportation, using poor containers, rough handling and lack of temperature management equipment such as cold rooms.
The average annual fruit production in Rwanda is estimated at 56,900 tonnes, while vegetables were estimated at over 317,900 tonnes as of 2018, according to the National Institute of Statistics of Rwanda.