Farmers urged to minimise post-harvest losses Farmers have been urged to start preparing for the summer cropping season as rains are expected to start next month

Yoliswa Dube-Moyo, Matabeleland South Bureau Chief

FARMERS in Matabeleland South have been urged to adopt the warehouse receipt system as part of efforts to reduce post-harvest losses.

Through this system, farmers can take their harvests for storage at various licensed warehouses across the province at a minimal fee.

The system is meant to improve access to finance for farmers, traders and processors, increase market power of farmers by enabling them to choose the time to sell their crops and contribute to lowering post-harvest losses through better storage warehouses.

The system is also expected to smoothen market prices of agricultural and other commodities by facilitating sales throughout the year, improve functioning of commodities markets through better risk management, transparency and strengthened ancillary services in transport, storage, logistics, inventory management, standards, training and certification.

The warehouse receipt system will also support the agricultural sector by providing banks with liquidity or risk coverage backed by warehouse receipts.

According to research, communal farmers incur about 30 percent post-harvest losses due to poor storage of their harvests. 

In an interview after a warehouse receipt awareness and sensitisation workshop with various stakeholders from the province in Gwanda yesterday, Business Development, Markets and Trade director in the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development Mr Richard Kaitano said the system saves farmers from investing in storage facilities at their farms.

“The warehouse receipt system is aimed at reducing post-harvest losses by our farmers. On average, farmers lose about 30 percent of their harvests through poor storage facilities, leakages, fires or deterioration by rodents. We’re saying, let’s create a central facility where you deliver your produce after harvesting to people who are certified and have invested in storage facilities in order  to reduce post-harvest losses,” said Mr Kaitano.

He said the advantage is that farmers don’t have to invest in storage facilities because they’re simply taking their products to a place that’s certified, licensed and secure. 

“You leave your product there and get a receipt. The receipt will specify the type of product deposited, the quantities, the quality and the price prevailing on the day,” said Mr Kaitano.

He said farmers in most areas are forced to sell their produce soon after harvesting because they have poor storage facilities.

“With this facility, a farmer can sell their product when they’re ready to sell and the product will still be as good as when it was harvested. We’re inviting players to be warehouse operators, to invest in setting up the warehouses and also be the warehouse person who will operate that warehouse,” said Mr Kaitano adding that farmers can withdraw their produce whenever they desire.

He said farmers were free to do what they want with  their produce

“You’re simply producing and giving those who can keep your product in a better way,” said Mr Kaitano.

He said 90 percent of the warehouse receipts are under the Grain Marketing Board.

“We’ve also engaged Buck Storage, we have facilities being established by the Food and Agriculture Organisation, which is one of our partners,” said Mr Kaitano.

Zimbabwe Mercantile Exchange general manager Mr Garikayi Munema said his organisation operates a warehouse receipt system and will be partnering with the Government in assisting the farmers.

Garikayi Munema

“The system allows farmers to harvest their commodities and take them to an approved warehouse where they’ll be issued a warehouse receipt. Armed with that receipt, farmers can decide when they want to sell their commodities. They’re not forced to sell soon after harvesting,” said Mr Munema.

He said the warehouse receipt can be used for credit facilities as it is recognised by the Securities Act as a security which is tradeable and is accepted by financial institutions.

“Instead of farmers worrying about storage and incurring expenses, they get their commodities warehoused in a properly structured warehouse facility which will offer other ancillary services like fumigation which then reduces post-harvest losses,” said Mr Munema.

He said the warehouses are insured and have appropriate facilities which ensure that there are no leakages, moisture and pests are controlled.

“It has been proven that it’s cheaper for a farmer to come to the warehouse than to try and do it on their own,” said Mr Munema.

The system is expected to improve smallholder farmers’ access to finance, boost productivity, production and incomes. – @Yolisswa

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