Post-harvest losses (PHLs) are recognized as an important challenge that exacerbates food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa. The objective of this study was to assess postharvest handling practices among smallholder farmers of maize in Chemba and Kondoa districts, Dodoma Region, Tanzania. Data were collected using questionnaires and observation checklists through a cross-sectional field survey during the 20/21 cropping season. 120 smallholder farmers were randomly selected for the study. Results show majority (75%) of smallholder farmers use traditional post-harvest handling practices such as harvesting maize and placing on the ground, drying (on the ground) and storing in polyethylene bags. Moreover, very few farmers (25%) have the awareness that improper handling practices causes postharvest losses. The findings revealed that the use of traditional postharvest practices is not influenced by age at χ2 = 6.268, P = 0.989 and level of education at χ2 = 1.599, P =1.000. It was concluded that inadequate knowledge of proper postharvest practices in the study area may affect the quality of maize grains. Improving postharvest management practices such as uses of technologies (moisture meters, portable dryers and hermetic storages devices) could help to reduce PHLs of maize and hence contribute to reducing poverty and food insecurity in the country.
Key words: Postharvest losses, maize, smallholder farmers, postharvest handling practices, Tanzania.
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