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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition After the harvest

After the harvest

The harvest is the final stage in the process of gaining crop and animal yields. But it is only the beginning of the processes of making these useful in the home and wider economy. In this Newsletter, various authors give insight into what happens after the harvest: how small holders handle, process and store farm products for home consumption and sale and preserve seed for coming seasons.

Table of contents:

  • 3 - 4
    On-farm processing and storage of agricultural products help secure a year-round food supply for rural families. All efforts to grow crops are in vain if the yield is destroyed by mould, insects and other pests before it can be used. When production and storage is successful, surpluses become available for sale. Most smallholders, included so-called "subsistence farmers ", sell part of their produce, at least in good years or when in need of non-farm products or services, such as medical care. The sale of processed or stored products can make an important contribution to their income and well-being.
  • 5 - 6
    The winning entry for ILEIA’s contest on Rural People’s Biotechnology was a 25-page article "The Indigenous Fermented Foods and Beverages of Sudan". Hamid Dirar spent six year documenting age-old techniques of food fermentation in Sudan, drawing upon the rich knowledge of elderly rural women. This gives a brief taste of the longer paper.
  • 7 - 8
    Traditional knowledge on how to dry and ferment foods for storage and transport on the island of Temotu, the easternmost province of the Solomon Islands.
  • 9 - 10
    Enset, also known as false banana, is a staple food for about 10 million people in southwestern Ethiopia. But farmers are largely alone in their efforts to improve enset production, as scientists have paid little attention to this crop. The Farmers' Research Project set out to discover how farmers grow and use enset, and took a special look at the complex and strenuous work involved in enset processing. This is the first step in seeking ways to ease a main task of the women.
  • 11 - 11
    Farmers want to store their cereal harvests well to provide a secure food supply for the family. They also want to be able to keep grains to sell when prices are higher, rather than when the market is glutted right after harvest. But they face problems of maintaining the right moisture content in stored grains and protecting them from pests. Through generations of learning from experience, the Aten people of Ganawuri, Nigeria, have developed effective ways of dealing with these problems.
  • 12 - 13
    Different storage containers and storage treatments in Southern Mali.
  • 14 - 14
    Proper storage of harvested grains is important to small-scale farmers. For a strong and efficient store, the right materials must be chosen to construct it. Most of these used to be found in the natural environment but, with increasing population pressure, they are not always freely available any more. Farmers need to adjust their designs, and benefit from experiences from elsewhere. In a course for extension staff in the Moru area of Southern Sudan, the best of traditional ideas and new ideas from outside were brought together.
  • 15 - 15
    In the West African Sahel, extension agencies have started to promote the recycling of organic matter such as crop residues and animal manure to deal with problems of soil erosion and low soil fertility. But farmers are reluctant to adopt it. To find out why, researchers from the University of Hohenheim and the ICRISAT Sahelian Centre studied how farmers in western Niger currently use millet residues.
  • 16 - 19
    Improved calf feeding can enhance animal production, as shown by Borana pastoralists in southern Ethiopia. Exotic inputs are not needed; instead, native grasses and legumes can be used more effectively by harvesting some for later use. Borana women, who are traditionally responsible for managing calves, have been trying out such new techniques.
  • 20 - 20
    Sweet potato production is part of many smallholders' strategies to gain a secure food supply. Emmanuel Manzungu examines the role of sweet potato in rural homes in Zimbabwe, particularly in the activities of women, and asks how projects "improving" sweet potato production will affect the local economy.
  • 21 - 21
    To involve farmers in identifying needs and opportunities for research and development, Rosana Mula and her colleagues studied the food system linkages of sweet potatoes, looking at production, marketing, processing and consumption. This is extracted from the first working paper of UPWARD (User's Perspective with Agricultural Research and Development).
  • 22 - 23
    Barbara Böni tells how women in Côte d'Ivoire helped to identify and adapt a press to extract palm oil to meet their needs.
  • 24 - 25
    Over the centuries, the people of the Andes have domesticated a multitude of extremely hardy and nutritious crops. The chisiya mama or "mother of all grains" is quinoa, a cereal which is one of the best sources of vegetable protein known in the world. However, under colonial and modern influences, new foods such as wheat-based noodles have become popular. Some village women in Bolivia have successfully experimented with small-scale production of healthier noodles using their indigenous cereal, quinoa.
  • 26 - 29
    In Haiti local cassave centres producing cassave bread have become popular among smallholders.
  • 30 - 32
    In the previous issue on "cutting back on chemicals", you might have read about the commercial organic fertiliser AgBio. Vickee and Hil Padilla described how this venture was set up as part of a Philippine campaign for pesticide-free rice production. In this article, Diana Mendoza describes how a group of underemployed people were helped to start a similar venture in Mindanao, southern Philippines. Although a careful and elaborate feasibility study was carried out, a year of extreme drought blocked success. Nevertheless, the method of identifying and starting up employment opportunities is a source of inspiration.
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