A mobile application has been developed to assist farmers to address the issue of high post-harvest losses from their produce.
The application, called Chains of Human Intelligence towards Efficiency and Equity in Agro-Food Trade along the Trans-Africa Highway (CHEETAH), addresses losses when farmers are crossing borders.
Available statistics revealed annual post-harvest food losses in Africa alone is 48 billion dollars which constitute 33 percent of global food production lost.
Peter Zorka, a fruit Farmer in Nsawam of the Eastern region who cultivates mango, pineapple, and pawpaw all year round complains he loses between 30 and 40 of their goods while transporting from the farm gate to the market.
“Before you transport fruits like mango, pineapple, and pawpaw from the farm to market center, because the road is not good, before you realise you get a lot of bruises on them".
“All the crops that you send to the market they sort the ones affected with the bruises out. Nobody wants them so they don’t buy so and you end up losing about 30 percent,” Peter was worried.
Sometimes of the farmers lose more than the 30 percent of the crops before they get the quality ones to sell.
The transportation challenge is not restricted to bad roads but what the farmers describe as unnecessary barriers on the road.
Transporters are most often intercepted by the police at sometimes non-routine checkpoints and demand for money.
“If you decide not to pay a bribe, sometimes they ask you to come down and make you offload all the fruits and delay you before packing it back before getting to the market”, an affected driver explained.
Both drivers and farmers complain that the handling is a major problem because the fruits develop a lot of bruises as a result of the mishandling.
He is one of the many farmers in Ghana affected by the effects of unnecessary delays in transportations of perishable goods.
Experts have indentified that the unnecessary delay also exposes the crops to undue environmental and atmospheric pressure causing it to decay quickly.
The mobile app, CHEETAH Smartphone Application, works by crowdsourcing trade barriers by value-chain players whiles transporting the goods.
It provides information flow between road users and helps one to determine the duration of transport and duration since harvest, and how the crops have been decaying.
This follows government’s announcement to institute a non-tariff barrier as it moves to take off customs officials from the road.
Executive Director for Ujuizi Labs, developers of the app, Valentijn Venus, said the innovation will augment government's effort to institute non-tariff barriers on the road.
“There is so much lost to post-harvest but till date, there is no information about the gap and how to partition this gap. It makes the transporter aware of where these losses are incurred the most and how bad deteriorating is at what point in the journey”.
Mr Venus adds that “it makes the driver aware of what is happening and also inform traders who want to use the same corridors to prevent same challenges because maybe the issue is still not solved".
Ministry of Dutch Foreign Aid and Development, and Borderless Alliance are collaborating to support the project with funding from Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs is funding.
The group has been engaging traders, transporters, and journalist to test whether the landscape of human and social interactions are ready is ready to adopt the technology.