Economics of Post-harvest Technologies

Economic assessment of technologies for the reduction of post-harvest losses

Problem statement:

Post-harvest losses (PHL) are a major source of inefficiency in the food value webs in SSA. As for the focus crops in BiomassWeb (maize, cassava, plantains), waste as a percentage of production is high for cassava and maize, with losses for maize being much higher than world average. Annual post harvest losses in crops like bananas are estimated at more than 50 per cent, but the figure is often higher in other parts of Africa. In Nigeria, the second-biggest economy in sub Saharan Africa, losses easily exceed one third for many crops (IITA 2012). PHL occur across the entire processing web of food and non-food biomass crops, which is why it is important to address them in BiomassWeb.


Analyze the problem of post-harvest losses from an economic perspective for the three focus crops of BiomassWeb as far as they are of importance in the respective study countries.

Research questions:

  1. Which PHL reduction schemes are applied in the marketing chain of the relevant crops, and which effect do they have on the estimated magnitude of PHL?
  2. What are advanced measures against PHL in the study areas that are not yet applied?
  3. Why have these advanced measures not yet been applied to a desirable extent?
  4. Are the elevated food price levels of recent years an incentive to consider advanced technologies to avoid PHL?
  5. Which difference could a reduced level of PHL make for economy and food security in the study regions?


The work package collects data on the use of techniques to avoid PHL in the study regions with an emphasis on the focus crops maize, cassava and plantains. The data will be collected during surveys that cover the value webs of these crops from farmers via traders, processors and retailers up to the final consumers of the different products. The collected data will be analyzed with econometric methods to statistically identify factors that contribute to high PHL. In the context of BiomassWeb, the emphasis is on identifying avenues for reducing PHL.

Countries of field research:

  • Nigeria
  • Ghana

Involved partners:

  • ILR, University of Bonn, Germany
  • University of Ibadan, Nigeria
  • University of Cape Coast, Ghana


  •  Dr. Arnim Kuhn
    Senior Researcher
    University of Bonn
    Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR)
  • Prof. Dr. Victor Olusegun Okoruwa
    Senior Researcher
    University of Ibadan (UI)
  • Nkoyo Etim Bassey
    Junior Researcher
    University of Bonn
    Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR)