Nourishing a growing world population in ecologically sustainable ways is one of the main goals of the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Current efforts prioritize increasing agricultural production, whereas reducing food waste and losses, including post-harvest losses, receives much less attention in policy-making. This bias is problematic, as hermetic storage bags, for instance, provide a simple and affordable means of preserving the quantity and quality of harvested food. Hermetic storage limits atmospheric oxygen, which causes desiccation of insects and other pests that damage stored grains.
Hermetic storage bags could thus, in principle, curb post-harvest losses and allow farmers to store their produce longer. This, in turn, could improve food security, food safety and incomes without putting additional pressure on natural resources, notably in poor areas of the world dominated by smallholder farming and high levels of food insecurity. However, as yet, the literature on human welfare impacts of post-harvest loss reduction is scarce and there is virtually no systematic empirical research on the implications of these technologies for a wide range of crucial outcomes.
This project addresses this research gap and analyzes the effects of improved on-farm storage on smallholder farmer’s welfare, in particular their a) income, poverty, and food security and b) nutrition and human health with a focus on pregnant women and newborns. We further analyse the potential of improved on-farm storage for reducing the adverse effects of fluctuating yields (e.g., due to climate change or other causes) on the main outcomes of interest. To analyze these effects, we implement a large-scale Randomized Control Trial (RCT) in Kenya. The randomly allocated intervention are five hermetic storage bags per smallholder farming household, with a capacity of 100kg of maize per bag, and a standardized training session on their use.