USAID-Funded Mechanization Activity Reduces Food Loss
Between harvest and retail, more than 14 percent of all food produced in the world is wasted. Loss of grain is most prevalent during the production stage (which includes planting and harvesting), with late and inappropriate planting using traditional methods contributing significantly to annual losses. Globally, mechanical transplanting can increase grain output by around 23 percent and straw yield by approximately 17 percent. In Bangladesh, late harvesting caused by climate change, natural disasters and labor shortages result in considerable losses of rice grain. Mechanical harvesting using a combine harvester and reaper can reduce losses by 4.90 percent and 1.93 percent respectively, compared to harvesting by hand.
The USAID-funded Feed the Future Bangladesh Cereal Systems Initiative in South Asia — Mechanization and Extension Activity (CSISA–MEA) supports all stages of agricultural production in Bangladesh. Two machines — the rice transplanter and combine harvester — have a major role in reducing grain loss. To maximize the use of these machines, CSISA Mechanization Activity has trained more than 800 machine operators and mechanics, resulting in the creation of around 4,000 machinery solution providers who supply services in Feed the Future zones across the country and benefit over 45,000 farmers.
At the same time, CSISA–MEA addresses the domestic demand for machinery parts, including training of approximately 1,500 light engineering workers to increase their ability to produce quality agricultural machine parts more efficiently, along with private sector involvement to create awareness of the machines and spare parts.
In addition to food grain, CSISA–MEA is working to improve the quality and quantity of animal fodder, which is a byproduct of the harvest. An automatic fodder chopper, for example, reduces feed waste by 10 to 15 percent, while also saving labor. When fodder is well chopped, it is easier for the cattle to digest, improving milk. The fodder chopper also alleviates the drudgery that women farmers face working on the homestead, cutting the time needed to prepare feed for cattle by 75 percent and freeing them up for other tasks or for increased leisure and family time.
Reducing food loss and waste is a major global development concern. By mechanizing various farming systems, CSISA–MEA is helping to increase the resilience of vulnerable populations in Bangladesh.