IMG 20231022 WA0024

Interview: ASARECA ED Dr. Enock Warinda on working with the National Agricultural Research Institutes 

(Last Updated On: 23 October 2023)

Entebbe I On October 19, a day after the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (ASARECA) and the International Union to Conserve Nature (IUCN) concluded a high-level dialogue on promoting agriculture in Kampala, tndNews’ Milton Emmy Akwam sat down with Enock Warinda (PhD), the Executive Director of ASARECA.

Dr. Warinda responded to a number of issues facing the agriculture sector in 15 member States in Africa, some of the solutions that are in place, among more. Read the full interview below:

Dr., recently ASARECA in partnership with IUCN hosted a “high-level sustainable agriculture dialogue which called for an urgent need for change”. The event saw at least 10 countries out of the 15 member countries your organization is working with travel to Kampala. Could you tell us the major takeaways from that dialogue in improving the agriculture sector?

Thank you so much. ASARECA is an intergovernmental organization that has got fifteen countries together to deal with agricultural research for development in the region. So, back to your question, the major takeaways that came out from the dialogue are quite significant. For example, nature-based solutions are very, very important in increasing the food and nutrition security in the region and more so in Uganda plus the other countries that we work in and even beyond. This is because Mother Nature should never be provoked. When you provoke Mother Nature it’s unforgiving and it will just fight you back. So, nature-based solutions are increasingly becoming a very good platform where we can increase food and nutrition security.

Another takeaway message is that there is a need for partnerships and collaborations among the various players in the region because without partnerships, without collaborations the efforts that we have, the synergies that we may need, and the trends and opportunities that we have may slip from our fingers. So, there is a need for proper partnerships and collaborations among the players.

Another takeaway is that there is a need to embrace the indigenous technical knowledge and this indigenous technical knowledge is what takes us back into what we call ‘transitioning back to our culture’. And another takeaway is that there is a need for resource mobilization. We need to mobilize resources for landscape interventions and landscape initiatives. Landscape – meaning bigger than one country but we need a lot of resources to do this.

The other takeaway is that there is a need for policy dialogue at all levels and these policy dialogues need to help in dealing with the triple planetary crisis, and there are three of them: climate change is a crisis, pollution is another crisis and biodiversity loss is another crisis. So, the takeaway message is that if we don’t have a good policy dialogue to deal with these triple planetary crises there will be a problem. The other one is that there is a need for policy harmonization among the member States. There are so many policies but these policies seem to be disjointed. There must be policy harmonization or policy coherence (I’ll talk about Policy coherence in a short while).

The other one is that there is a need for awareness creation among the major stakeholders. There were so many stakeholders from almost 10 countries. These people if they were not put together, if there is no proper awareness creation, we will be back to business as usual but we need great awareness creation among the ones who were there and those that they represent and even beyond.

There was also another takeaway message that gender equality and inclusion are vital. We can’t leave women behind, we can’t leave the youth behind – we can’t leave the people with disabilities behind. We must include all of them in this dialogue and in the subsequent implementation that we need to engage in. The other one is that there is a need for empowerment and strengthening of the capacity of the stakeholders. Capacity gaps exist but unless we deal with the capacity gaps and build the capacity of the various stakeholders we may not go far.

There is also a need to scale up or to disseminate and publicize the proven technologies and innovations. This is needed because we have so many technologies for land management, water management, and integrated soil fertility management but these technologies need to be scaled. There is a need to provide a platform for scaling this out.

The other one is that there is a need to strengthen linkages between four main players if not more but the major ones are academia where we train scientists and agriculture students. The scientists who work in the laboratories at our National Agricultural Research Organizations, the farmers who are the last mile and also the extensionists who act as the intermediaries between the farmers and the academia and the scientists. There is a need to strengthen this linkage. If we don’t, there is going to be a persistent gap and then we may not achieve much.  

Last but not least, another takeaway message is that land system management requires joint efforts from the governments, the farmers, the researchers and many, many others and this is what leads me to what I alluded to before: policy coherence. What is policy coherence? This ensures consistency, comprehensiveness and harmonious-compatible outcomes across the policy areas and sectors without compromising the integrity of the policymakers’ initial goals. But as ASARECA, we are committed. The message I took from there is that I aspire as the leader of the organization we coordinate and facilitate this policy coherence but we want to do it along three major dimensions. We want to look at the horizontal coherence of the policy. What do we do here? We’ll be addressing the consistencies, the trade-offs and gaps which exist within different sectors of agriculture, education and the environment. So we want to look at that horizontal coherence.

We’ll also be looking at vertical coordination and vertical coherence. What do we do here? We’ll be addressing the efforts aimed at harmonizing the policies and actions from the national level down to the local level and this will bring in a lot of harmony across and within the administrative boundaries. Last but not least, we’ll be looking at temporal coherence and in this case, we’ll address the allocation of resources over time and we’ll sequence our activities with IUCN and all the other players in sequencing the implementation of activities within the short term, the medium term and also the long term. So, in brief, those are the major takeaway messages that I got from this two-day intensive dialogue.

Dr Enock Warinda (with the microphone) during a panel discussion at last week’s high-level agriculture dialogue in Kampala. All photos by the ARARECA Team.

ASARECA has engaged farmer organizations across the member countries that work closely with rural farmers (small and medium-scale farmers). How has this been helpful including some of the benefits?

In our engagement with farmers for over 30 years now, Uganda is a founding member among nine other countries that came up in 1994, September and decided to form this organization called ASARECA. So, over these 30 years, more so, we have been working with farmers and what are some of the benefits that we have gathered? We have made sure that we support the farmers including the farmers here in Uganda in the exchange of technologies, innovations and management practices. These are demand-driven technologies. The farmers tell us that ‘we need this technology to increase production or to increase productivity or to deal with the drought or to deal with the heat wave or to deal with flooding’ so, they demand this type of technology. We have managed to work with the farmers and they have benefited from the exchange of these technologies, innovations and management practices.

Also read: High-level sustainable agriculture dialogue in Kampala addresses urgent need for change 

We have also supported farmers in capacity development or training. Some of these are short-term training that run between 2 hours even up to 3 months and others are long term where we have supported even the farmers in doing their Diplomas, some of them we have supported them to do Bachelors’ Degrees, others were even in Masters and some to do their PhDs. So, we have supported capacity development and this capacity also included not just the human capacity but also the infrastructure where we could go and help them come up with goat shade, the poultry shade. 

We were supporting them with some infrastructural technologies like for those who are dealing with Napier. We invented the technology of chopping the Napier grass to enable them to feed their livestock (initially they were using the machetes). They were risking their lives by cutting off their fingers and so on. So, we came up with a very simple homemade technology that they could just use. The ladies and the young men could use it.

We did a lot of capacity strengthening. The other benefit our farmers have gained in Uganda and even beyond regards partnerships within and across the countries. We could organize what we call the benchmarking and exchange visits where we get some farmers and make them go and see what Kenya is doing. Last year we took some of them to Tanzania and this year we may take them to Kenya but if we don’t have enough time early in the year we want to take many of these farmers to see what other farmers are doing and so there is a lot of learning and partnerships.

We have also tried to support these farmers by linking them with the private sector and with the governments. We bring in private sectors that sit and discuss with them and they agree on how to do trade, the quality which the private companies require, the quantity and also the timing on when the private sector needs the produce or the quantities that they may want – the supplies for their trade and so forth. 

We have also worked closely with the Meteorological Departments where we downscale the weather forecast so that the farmers can easily know when to plant and whether not to plant, when to irrigate and when not to irrigate. We have worked very closely with the Uganda National Meteorological Authority and other Meteorological Departments of other countries – the 15 countries now that we work with and this is very healthful in enabling the farmers to really know what to do at which time. We have also supported the farmers in adopting the Integrated Water Management Technologies. Water is a scarce resource but we have technologies now which enable farmers to know how to manage their water. We have also supported the farmers more so in Uganda, Tanzania and even Kenya and part of the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda in the management of the Cassava Brown Streak Disease (CBSD). This is a disease that could ravage the farms and clears the farms such that the farmers would have zero harvest but through working with them we have subdued most of the regions and in Uganda. We have completely subdued the CBSD. 

We have worked with farmers also in dealing with the banana Xanthomonas wilt (BXW) disease, we have tried to work with the framers in dealing with this and more so in Uganda where we came up with a new technology where farmers can use the tubers which were not diseased that that increased their yields – in some cases up to 100 per cent from what they could not do before. We have also worked with the farmers and they have benefitted from harmonized cassava and potato standards. These standards have enabled the farmers to produce flours, chips, and crisps from potatoes and cassava and trade within the region (East African Community) because these standards were endorsed by the EAC Parliament and so if you meet those standards you can trade anywhere – there are no embargoes – there are no bottlenecks. 

We have also supported the farmers in promoting the regional seed trade by ensuring that we have a seed policy harmonization. Uganda benefited because through this Uganda can trade on the seed as long as they can produce the seeds which are of acceptable standards, so the same with Kenya and Ethiopia where IUCN is also working. It is very, very important that as we are working together with the IUCN and other players we work on this making sure that the policies that need to be harmonized we spearhead the harmonization, this opens the markets for the farmers and they get excited and they can use their land (like now we are talking about vertical expansion as opposed to horizontal expansion). So, the farmers can use the vertical expansion and still get high production and have markets without any problem. We have also supported our farmers by establishing what we call the Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) in given commodities. For example Uganda, here in Namulonge we have the Cassava Regional Centre of Excellence, in Kenya we have the Regional Center of Excellence for Dairy, Ethiopia we have the Regional Center of Excellence for Wheat; in Tanzania, we have the Regional Center of Excellence for Rice. 

What is the value of these Regional Centers of Excellence? They make the country the central power that all scientists from the region can come and learn; that is why they become the regional centres. So, we make sure that each country has a specific and unique commodity that they can become the Regional Center of Excellence for. Rwanda is the Regional Center of Excellence for Land Husbandry and that is why even in the IUCN project they do a lot of work on reclamation of land, and healing of the land which is highly degraded.

We also promote smart agriculture on small farms where we use proven technologies and innovations. We have supported the farmers in making sure that they work with the private sector to enhance their trade and also commercialization of the technologies, the scientists can now commercialize their technologies so they get some royalties which is a motivation even to the farmers themselves. We cannot miss to mention that we have benefitted our farmers by making them ICT-sensitive. Through the ICT they have platforms, they have applications (Apps), and they can do the e-trading, e-commerce and e-promotion, and also we work with them to address climate change waves and shocks. We are working with our farmers and they are befitting in thousands.

35 per cent of land in Uganda is cultivated for agriculture. The agriculture sector is one of the key components for the stability of the economies. Last year, the sector contributed 24 per cent to Uganda’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Is this something a partner like ASARECA and the government of Uganda should be proud of?

Good. I can say Yes, ASARECA is proud and I believe Uganda can also be proud. Based on the statistics I have just got on the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the 15 ASARECA member countries for the year 2022, you will see that Uganda’s GDP is actually $45.5b as opposed to the amount that may have been given and that may be contributing very significantly to the GDP which is the 24 per cent. If you check, 35 per cent of Uganda’s land is being cultivated, and the total land area of Uganda is 242,000 Square Kilometers. But if you now calculate the 35 per cent of Uganda’s land which is under cultivation that is about 8.5m hectares and you can imagine that this has got huge potential in even making Uganda raise its GDP from agriculture itself if only the farmers who cultivate this 8.5m hectares; use the proven technologies, innovations and management practices.

If you go to a country like Ethiopia, it has a GDP of $127b. If you can compare, it is almost 3 times that of Uganda. And if you go to Kenya, it has a GDP of $113b, more than double the GDP of Uganda. Tanzania has $76b of GDP and if you compare it with Uganda’s $46b that shows you that Uganda still has huge potential because if Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania (our neighbours) can be this much in terms of GDP then we can learn what are the technologies that Ethiopia is using and that is why ASARECA is there and we are now trying to support Uganda and other countries.

ASARECA has initiated discussions with individual ministers who are responsible for agricultural research in the Member States to help in balancing these countries. Last week I was with the Minister of Agriculture in Rwanda and if you check – Rwanda’s GDP is $13.3b which is less than a quarter of Uganda’s. So, Uganda’s GDP is better. But if you look at the activities which Rwanda is trying to implement including land rehabilitation, what if Uganda’s farmers in the mountainous areas can adopt the technology in Rwanda – for example – in the highlands of Ethiopia and the highlands of Eritrea, the productivity level can increase and the GDP of Uganda can improve. 

I can say ‘Yes.’ Partners like ASARECA and the government should be excited about this because it provides us with a very good opportunity for improvement. We may not be there yet but there are all the technologies we have, all the human resources needed, the scientists in Uganda for example in their thousands who have high-level expertise, trained both locally and also with international universities. These are the kind of people we want to work with – together to improve all the GDP and even the agricultural GDP.

So, this is something that provides us with a very good opportunity but, yes we are proud as ASARECA that if you look at the five years – you have seen a steady increase in the GDP for Uganda, the statistics are there, it has been there quite steady but we can make a hike – a quick one by the adoption of these technologies and working together – bringing our ministers together.

At ASARECA, we have got a good platform where we bring in all the ministers in the 15 countries. This is one of the agendas which will be discussed in the next Council of the Patrons Ministers of Agriculture on how best can we endorse certain policies for the transfer of technologies across countries, for the adoption of certain strategies like the agro-ecology, nature-based solutions (NbS) which can be a booster, enablers of increased productivity and also making the GDP increase. You know the higher the GDP, the better the locals because they have some good amount which they can (what we call the disposable income). This is very important and I feel as ASARECA I’m excited that there is an opportunity. We have not reached the peak but it gives us a very good opportunity to quickly be a bit innovative and improvise and reach where we are supposed to.

Some are not very good, like the Central African Republic (CAR) has a GDP of just $1b, and Uganda has $46b. So, you can easily see that Burundi has $3b… at least there is some level of satisfaction.

The 2003 Maputo Protocol urged governments in Africa to allocate at least 10 per cent of their national budgets to agriculture and rural development. Many countries have not heeded this. As ASARECA, do you think Africa has done enough and remains committed to standing on its own by 2050? 

Honestly, I may disagree with some people but that is my opinion that there is not much progress made with regard to honoring this Maputo Declaration of 2003. This is 2023; this is 20 years down the road – 20 years! Even a child who was born when this Declaration was being endorsed, that child has finished the University, and you’ll find that the majority of the member States lag behind. Burundi mentioned to us yesterday that at least now they have passed the 10 per cent mark, that they are at 12 per cent, but these are figures that need to be validated. But the truth of the matter is that this is an area where not much can be there to ride home about. As I said before, we have initiated discussions with individual ministers because this is an issue we have to deal with. 

As ASARECA we signed an MOU with the African Union Commission to deal with some of these ticking problems, we are also the technical arm of COMESA and we are trying to work very closely with the East African Community, with the IGAD and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECASS) which is headquartered in Gabon. The aim is: how can we bring in the regional economic communities, how can we bring in the national governments through the Ministers of agriculture, how can we bring in our Ministers of Finance to make sure that these targets are met because there is a problem.

I’m not very much happy but I believe by 2050 (that still gives us almost 27 years) we will be able to – with these efforts, with this campaign ASARECA has started, we are joined by other like-minded organizations – IUCN and the rest we are sure that our governments can do something. We may all not reach 10 per cent because of the differences in the GDPs but on average we may reach a minimum of 8 per cent by 2050. So, this is my prayer. 

Also read: Interview: Rehema Kahurananga on IUCN’s strategic agenda on nature, WWD 2023 

What have been some of the successes and challenges faced by National Agricultural Research Institutes (NARIs) in the 15 member States in driving the agriculture agenda forward?

Thank you so much. For the successes, I have already mentioned the benefits like the exchange of technology, capacity development, partnerships, linkages with the private sector; use of downscale weather. However, there are several challenges. The challenges which if we don’t focus on will still draw us backwards include minimum resources: financial resources and human resources. Why human resources? You find that the majority of these scientists who are responsible for generations of new technologies are retiring; they are reaching their retirement age. When they retire new scientists come in. Unfortunately, most of these new scientists have not been mentored. I have discussed with some of them – they are just appointed into leadership positions but they have not been mentored by those senior managers who are retiring. There is going to be a gap in terms of the new crop of leaders coming in who have not been properly inducted – who have not been properly handed over and they are required now to take over and expand the agriculture, it is going to be a difficult venture for them.

Other challenges include uncoordinated research and innovations. You find people doing research here and there within the national systems. For example, we (Uganda) have the National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO) but it has research centres or research institutes. We have NACRI, we also have one that deals with Livestock, and we have all – different types. You go to Kenya; we have 17 Research Institutes, the ones dealing with ruminants, non-ruminants, the ones dealing with crops, industrial crops, and seeds – there are so many. If there is no proper coordination then all of these will bombard farmers with technologies on crops, technologies on livestock, technologies on industrial crops, and technologies on all manners, the farmers will get overwhelmed.

That has been a challenge and that is why ASARECA is there to coordinate that. The other challenge of the NARIs is donor fatigue. They are all looking for money from the same donors. Uganda is looking for money from the same donor – the World Bank, for example, Kenya is looking for the same money from the World Bank. So, the donors are also becoming difficult and unhappy because they can’t support all of this. The NARIs are facing the challenge of donor fatigue. There is also a challenge of the capacity gap in diverse fields, in the food systems – there are a lot of gaps there, and there is limited capacity in the implementation of agricultural ICT. There is a lot of ICT, the world is changing – the youths are coming on board – they want the ICT and there is not much. There are also challenges to dealing with the effects of climate change, there are challenges to the adoption of climate-smart agriculture (CSA). There are so many of them but how many people are aware of – how many NARIs are building it to come up with those CSA technologies? There are also skewed policy cycles that deal with foresighting, policy analysis, policy approval, and policy implementation – there are problems – the NARIs are facing all these.

They are also facing problems with staggered market access. Farmers are there but where are the markets? Can they get information to access these markets, that is, the NARIs have not yet really coordinated how farmers can access local markets, those within a 5km radius, 10km, 50km and across the border – that is a challenge but ASARECA is coming in to really try and support that.

Gender inequality in almost all member States is affecting the NARIs. You go to the research institutions, go to the countries and even look at the leadership, see the structures in terms of gender distribution you will be convinced that there is a problem in the value addition of major value chains – a lot goes into waste. We need to think of those technologies that can add value and we also have limited commercialization of proven agricultural technologies and innovations.

Why is this a problem? Scientists are coming up with new technologies, they spend hours, hardly do they sleep, and they have to come up with technologies. After the technologies are generated, they are there, what motivates them if they are not commercialized, if they don’t bring in revenue where they can even get some royalties. So, this is another demotivator to our scientists. We need to really think of how we can commercialize these technologies.

There are also non-targeted communications due to vast delivery channels. We have Televisions, we have Radios, we have print media, Twitter (X), and we have all the social platforms. We bombard people with all manner of communications, there is no proper channeling of information and this also confuses even the NARIs. This is a problem the NARIs face: Which channel do they use? Which approach do they use? 

There is also some imbalanced demand for supplies or technologies and innovations. For example, Uganda is the best in terms of cassava technology; you go to Burundi, with similar agroecology, wanting to plant cassava. They need a variety of cassava. To import that variety from Uganda is a whole trouble because it’s not easy to transport yet Uganda can have a surplus – Burundi may have a deficit yet we are from the same community. How then can that facilitation of the transfer of the technology be done? As ASARECA we are now trying to use Ministers to pass certain policies that can allow for the ease of movement of these technologies so that this imbalance in demand and supply technologies can be dealt with.

There is also an escalation of nutrition insecurity and poverty. Interaction between the private sector and farmers has been very weak, farmers feeling exploited, and the private sector is not willing to sit and discuss with the farmers. So, farmers are left without somebody to fend for them. This is something that we need to work on. Decreased agricultural productivity and access to seeds and fertilizer are problems which even the National Agricultural Research Institutions are facing and there is a limited supply of not only new but superior home-grown technologies and innovations. Home-grown – using the indigenous technical knowledge, we need to bring that – that is our challenge but also an opportunity for us. 

There is also some incoherence and limited economy of scale in the agricultural research for technology generation and transfer. Why is there that economy of scale? Look at this, Uganda’s scientists have spent 7 years to come out with the technology which can quickly be adapted in Burundi; we need just two seasons of testing ‘National Performance Trial’ in the field but because of the difficulty in the transfer, Burundi’s scientists want to start developing or generating new technology which will take them 7 years, will have 20 scientists – hundreds of thousands of dollars which could have been solved by just allowing for a transfer from Uganda to Burundi and you reduce on the costs, time and human resource. 

ASARECA is there to work with partners like the IUCN because they are a very strong partner, plus other like-minded promoters of agro-ecology and nature-based solutions and we have been in this field, can provide that coordination and platform and make sure that this thing is not on paperwork. And the good thing is that we signed a joint communiqué yesterday (October 18) and that already puts us on the road, we hit the ground running to make sure that the communiqué delivers. By the time we meet again, even if it’s after 6 months or after 1 year we should produce tangible evidence that our partnership is already yielding fruits, the NARIs are working together, the farmers are interacting more, the platforms are more harmonized, the policies are a bit coherent and there is quite a lot that should start going on.

You have already hinted at this crisis – Climate Change, one of the major problems agriculture and farmers are facing today. There have been so many calls from [to] the governments, activists and partners to ensure that we try to avert climate change and when we don’t do that, for example, agriculture will continue to be affected. Many farmers cannot afford irrigation. I’m now asking you, ‘What should be done among the 15 member States or Africa in general to see that irrigation is affordable and farmers are expecting high yields at the end of the farming seasons?’

I may start by saying that even in the Continent, within the African Union, there is this document on the Strategic Framework for Improvement of Agricultural Mechanization in Africa. This strategy focuses on coming up with low-cost technologies or machinery or equipment that farmers can use to reduce their labour and make it water-efficient and climate or environmentally friendly. I can say that ‘Yes’ for now it (irrigation) is very expensive for smallholder farmers, I can look at a farmer in the village wanting to do irrigation, but it’s very expensive. First of all, where will this farmer get the water pump? Even if you have the water pump where will you get the water to pump from? When you get the water pump you must also get a permit in case it is from a different location. So, all these might pass through somebody’s farm. Assuming you are to draw it from a River, the NEMA will not just want you to pump water anyhow, there are regulations that you have to abide by. Most of the farmers may not have that kind of knowledge, or capability and it becomes very difficult for a farmer in the midst of this climate change. 

The farmer may have water, maybe half a kilometer but how much do you need to spend to buy the pipes, to connect, how many horse pipes do you need and can you afford as a local farmer? This may require the farmers to come together and put their land together (which is also not easy because of the land tenure system, it’s so difficult). It’s very expensive and yet we don’t have options. ASARECA has come up with some simple solutions, for example, there is a project that was supported by the Australian government: the Virtual Irrigation Academy (VIA) tool which was promoting very simple technology which the farmers could use and they called “a chameleon” because it changes colour. You press it in the soil and it will show different colors. If it shows the colour blue, it means that there is too much water and too much moisture.

If it’s green, it can tell you that the water is okay but you need to start watching out, it might reach a point where you might need to irrigate or put in some water. And when it is red, it shows you that there is an immediate need. In many cases you may find that a farmer looks at the crops, sees a crop wilting and wants to start pouring water while this machine can show you the sign of wilting, the moisture there can still sustain the crops for one, two or three days.

These are the technologies we want to start putting across because it’s so cheap to farmers so that they don’t waste the little water they have. Also, we are now going to work with the IUCN in this nature-based solution (NbS) by looking at integrated water management technologies because there are many water management technologies like harvesting rainwater. In some areas, it means having some dams downhill so when the runoff is there it’s collected. We have done this in the highlands of Ethiopia, Eritrea, Rwanda, in Burundi where the water harvesting has really been so good.

In Rwanda for example, water that we harvested for a certain project was enough to take the crops through the three-month dry seasons and the farmers did not have any effect of the drought. These are some of the NbS that we can work on. 

There are also digital connectors – a project funded by the European Union. It’s also operating with the same principles as the VIA where now the farmers are interconnected and can easily know when they need to collectively act together and address the issue at hand and it’s being implemented in Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and others.

We have the Land Soil Project – looking at how can we work on irrigation and not just irrigation, we are trying to look at working with the farmers and the scientists (and IUCN will be in) on which are the better options because there are no one metal that can fit all, there are some areas with too many slopes, what do you use? There are those which are too flat, what do you use? We are thinking of all these and some other projects – the Water Development Program (WATDEV) which is funded by the Italian Cooperation and we are trying to really see how this can be done.

There is also a problem of bad post-harvesting practices leading to contamination of food and loss of food values, what is your take on it as well?

We are aware and even in the dialogue we were informed that over 30 per cent of the produce is wasted. We have started coming up with post-harvest handling technologies – those that can add value to commodities and increase the shelf life of the perishable commodities for up to one week…We are thinking of those solutions which the farmers can adopt for post-harvest handling, using some rocks, soil and moist soil; you put your things there, it can increase the shelf life to 3, 4 and 5 days – that is really what we want to do.

Also read: ESAFF calls for efforts to promote food safety to avert food-borne infections 

I agree it is expensive but if we can’t help the farmers who will help them, if the governments cannot help the farmers, who will? The governments that also form the ASARECA are working together, bringing to them some of the solutions that have been proven by the scientists. We will still persuade the governments to work together with us, the IUCN and so forth to make our farmers better, we don’t need to leave them worse than we found them.

Dr Warinda talk about the ‘failed’ Maputo Protocol 


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