Postharvest Management in Sub-Saharan Africa

Project completed

Food losses in Sub-Saharan Africa are roughly one third of the production and occur mostly at postharvest handling and at processing level. The goal of this project is to reduce postharvest losses for improved food security of smallholder farmers. Helvetas and its partners will work in Benin and Mozambique and cooperate closely with key multilateral, governmental and nongovernmental organizations in identifying and bringing good practices of postharvest management to scale and to advocate for a conducive policy environment.

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Agriculture & food security
Employment & economic development
Agricultural development
Agricultural policy
Agriculture value-chain development (til 2016)
SME development
01.09.2012 - 31.03.2017
CHF  2’920’000

For most countries in Africa and notably the low-income/food-deficit countries, postharvest losses are often a forgotten yet important factor that exacerbates food insecurity. A recent study of the Food and Agriculture Organization estimated food losses of 120-170 kg per capita and year for Sub-Saharan Africa with 40% of the losses occurring at post-harvest and processing stage.


Food security of smallholder farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa is increased through reduced postharvest losses at farm and community level.

Target groups

The primary target group (direct clients) are smallholder farming households and rural communities in the two pilot countries (first phase). The intervention focuses particularly on net-deficit grain agricultural producers. The secondary target group (indirect clients) are local farmer organizations, rural advisory services agents, private sector actors, staff from NGO’s and governments, and policy makers which are all considered as “change agents” in terms of improved postharvest management.

Medium-term outcomes
  1. Improved handling and storage options within the grains and pulses value chains are benefitting smallholder farmers in pilot countries.
  2. Good practice options for reducing postharvest losses are compiled, disseminated and scaled up.
  3. Appropriate regulatory frameworks on reducing post-harvest losses in food supply chains are introduced and implemented at national and regional levels and financing is secured.

Results from previous phases:  

Scoping studies conducted in Benin and Mozambique confirmed the need for action, revealing a number of major constraints that impede effective postharvest management. Among the most important are a lack of awareness of the relevance of postharvest losses at all institutional levels, the quasi absence of postharvest management as topic in politics and rural advisory services, no possibilities of households to invest in improved postharvest technologies, the loss of traditional knowledge on local postharvest management techniques, inappropriate or harmful conservation methodologies and the limited access to markets and market information.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation
  • Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS) and Agridea

Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    2’920’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    2’793’280
Project phases Phase 2 01.04.2017 - 31.03.2020   (Completed)

Phase 1 01.09.2012 - 31.03.2017   (Completed)