ZANZIBAR – Zanzibar has taken a proactive stance in mitigating post-harvest losses in its fruit and vegetable sector, with researchers and stakeholders advocating for increased financial support from donors and investors for crucial programs in this domain.

Recently, at the conclusion of a highly successful research project titled ‘Innovative Free-Energy Technologies for Reducing Postharvest Losses of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables (FFV),’ conducted by the State University of Zanzibar (SUZA) in partnership with Sokoine University of Agriculture (SUA), stakeholders emphasized the necessity of sustained funding for similar initiatives.

Dr. Abdallah Rashid Mkumbukwa, Dean of the School of Natural and Social Sciences at SUZA, emphasized the program’s potential to safeguard harvested produce for hundreds of farmers.

“Beneficiaries of the five-year project have significantly reduced losses of fruits and vegetables post-harvest. We aim to expand this program to benefit farmers across Zanzibar,” Dr. Mkumbukwa stated during the event held at SUZA’s College of Tourism in Maruhubi.

Acknowledging the vital role of the Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology (COSTECH), Dr. Mkumbukwa expressed gratitude for their support, which facilitated training for approximately 70 small-scale farmers and the establishment of an Energy Free Cool Chamber (EFCC) in villages such as Dunga, Bungi, and Shakani. Additionally, a cold store was set up at the Mwanakwerekwe general market in Unguja.

Dr. Bakari, another key figure in the project, highlighted the tangible impact of the initiative on reducing post-harvest losses, particularly in tomatoes.

He noted that losses had decreased from 10-20% to 10-16% at the market level, owing to innovative interventions.

Moreover, the project extended beyond mere loss reduction, with the provision of free energy cold storage facilities to small-scale farmers and traders of FFV, aimed at enhancing shelf-life and maintaining produce quality.

Notably, the initiative facilitated training for 50 farmers and twenty small traders in best practices spanning farming, harvesting, storage, and handling of produce.

Dr. Rashid Suleiman, a Lecturer from Sokoine University, underscored the broader significance of the project, highlighting its potential to address global challenges in post-harvest losses, which remain alarmingly high, especially in developing countries like those in Africa.

Mr. Sharji Shaaban Ameir, a farmer from Bungi, attested to the effectiveness of the technologies introduced through the program.

He remarked, “Some of us who were trained and now apply the technologies have managed to save our fruits and vegetables from rotting and wilting.”

For all the latest fresh produce industry news updates from Africa, the Middle East, and the World, subscribe to our NEWSLETTER, follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, like us on Facebook, and subscribe to our YouTube channel.