An analysis of the causes and effects of maize grain postharvest losses in Zambia's Kafue District

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Zulu, Chawanzi
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University of Zambia
Maize (Zea mays) grain losses contribute to food insecurity and low farm incomes not only in Kenya, but also in Sub-Saharan African countries (Compton, 1992; Azu, 2002; Republic of Kenya, 2004). Therefore, efficient postharvest handling, storage and marketing can tremendously contribute to social economic aspects of rural communities in Zambia as stipulated in Vision 2030. The objectives of the study were to; determine the effect of maize postharvest losses on the availability of food to the farmers, Assess the effect of the losses on the price the farmers sell their maize and examine the social demographic characteristics of farmers that influence postharvest losses. It was hypothesized that postharvest losses reduce availability of food, low quality maize grain reduces the market price for the grain and demographic factors of the farmer influence postharvest losses. A total of 145 farmers to be interviewed were selected from the area. The data collected were analyzed using descriptive and correlation methods. During the study it was noted that 83.4% of the losses were due to inadequate storage, 76.6% were due to inadequate transport, 70.3% of the losses were due to inadequate labour to help in postharvest handling and 35.2% of the losses were due to adverse weather. Among the factors found to have had a significant (at 95% confidence level) influence on maize postharvest losses were: level of education (P-value 0.04), distance from field to storage place (P-value=0.0235), inadequate labour (P-value=0.03), inadequate storage (P-value = 0.0116) and type of transport (P-value=0.0391) In view of the findings, it is recommended that both private and public invention should consider promoting programs that are aimed at teaching the farmers on proper maize storage and post-harvest handling so that the quantity of maize grain lost is reduced. I would also recommend that farmers are involved in Contract Farming and farmers form cooperatives so that they can build storage facilities near their field as to avoid losses that are incurred when transporting the grain for long distances
Student Project Report
Corn--Postharvet losses-Zambia