|Information network on post-harvest operations (INPhO)|
During the past 20 years or so, many donor agencies, development programmes, research and training institutions have devoted a great deal of resources to improve different aspects of the post-harvest system covering many of the major staple crops. This has resulted in an accumulation of a large amount of useful practical experiences, technical information and products. Unfortunately, most of these experiences, products and information are not easily accessible, since work has been carried out in a random manner without any central (focal) point through which dissemination can be carried out.
A number of these international organizations working in the area of post-harvest systems, have expressed the need to establish a Reference and Facilitating Secretariat through which information and experiences could be retrieved and channelled for wider circulation. It is now being proposed that such a Secretariat be established at the Headquarters of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Rome, Italy. The Secretariat will co-ordinate and establish good co-operation and understanding between the different training, technical, research and other institutions working in this field.
The nature of information which will be collected by INPhO will be based on proven technologies, products and experiences. This information will be collected within the framework of various on-going and completed post-harvest projects which are run by NGOs, research and training institutions, development organizations and many other agencies in Member Nations. The data will be processed in a systematic way to give better diagnostic tools and guidelines to undertake an accurate investigation of socio-economical, technical and other aspects required for further relevant research and development work in the field of post-harvest systems.
Using modern computerized communication facilities, it is easier to gather and disseminate this type of information and technologies to a very large number of people and institutions working in this area. Making such facilities available to establish such a Reference Centre, however, requires a lot of resources and funding.
The basic role of the programme will be the collection, collation, development and dissemination of useful information on proven technologies and products in post-harvest systems. The programme will also participate in the improvement of Food Security and enhance the increase in income and employment generation through the use of locally produced agricultural products.
It is proposed that AGSI Service will manage the INPhO Secretariat. Its initial work will be to consolidate the on-going Post-Harvest Technology and Prevention of Food Loss activities as well as the ones provided by the Institutions who have agreed to participate.
It will be built on three main elements:
which will contain information collected through field experiences from FAO and the other Organizations such as:
These database will not be limited to the above components, but will be open-ended to include all relevant subject areas. The full range of expertise on post-harvest can not be available within one organisation (e.g. FAO) and therefore it is proposed to establish an international expert consultation mechanism which will be composed of, but not limited to:
Reference documents for distribution to Member nations. INPhO will also provide a direct access to the post harvest areas of the other existing librairies
Recipients of this information will include people working in the agricultural production and marketing sector such as producers, researchers, policy makers, private investors, donors, etc.
The INPhO will provide Member Nations with consolidated and fully integrated information on all aspects of the post-harvest system. This information will be specific to the area and/or region in order to provide better national policies when making plans in the field of agricultural development and improvement of food security.
Better exchange of information between donors and recipient institutions will be made possible in order to enhance proper channelling of the available limited resources and to minimise duplication.
Through the national and regional network, Member Nations will become aware of the latest interventions in proven development activities and will also be able to exchange information and compare results on the effectiveness of different systems which have been tested within the region.
The justification of this Reference Facility is based on the active participation of the other Institutions (International, Regional and National). It will start with a small "Nucleus" which could be composed of FAO, CIRAD and GTZ and after a while other organizations could joint it. So, it is a long term programme which has to start quickly in order to be able to answer to the increasing requests coming from Member Nations.