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January 04, 2010

Poor storage threatens cereal harvest in Benin

Benin's cereal production is expected to be 45 percent higher than last year, but poor storage ruins an estimated 40 percent of the annual harvest, according to UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

"The same effort we are putting into production is not going into conservation," said Benin's FAO representative, Jean Prosper Koyo. "It is not enough to just produce, but the surplus needs to be stockpiled." He added: “Storage is important so that products can be processed here. We cannot export all of the raw production."

While FAO and the USAID-funded famine early warning system (FEWSNET) project cereal production declines of an average 30 percent in neighbouring Chad, Niger and Mauritania due to insufficient rains, they have predicted as of November an estimated 45-percent – or 600-ton – increase in Benin's 2009 harvest over last year's.

The next biggest increase according to FAO is in Ghana with an expected 44 percent more production than last year; the biggest drop is in Chad with an estimated 34-percent reduction.

FAO’s Koyo said FAO is financing the pilot construction of metal silos for small producers as well as three large warehouses throughout Benin for medium to large producers.

Another cause of post-harvest crop losses is farmers’ use of natural sunlight to dry their cereals pre-storage, Koyo said. “Sun is the not the best way to dry harvests. When it is done incorrectly, we expose the harvest to parasites."


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