BambaraGrowthMarkets (BamGNuts)

Bambara is an important but orphaned grain legume used throughout sub-Saharan Africa as a drought tolerant source of food.  It is particularly popular as a inter-crop and as a source of food and income for women.  In some countries, there are strong beliefs and taboos associated with Bambara that limit its production to vulnerable and marginal groups.  This project, working with Lilongwe University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (LUANAR), Malawi, Naliendeli Research Station, Mtwara, Tanzania and the Mozambique Institute of Agricultural Research (IIAM), has developed and released new Bambara varieties, research postharvest practices for Bambara and development new marketing plans to stimulate demand for the product. The current phase started in 2014 and finishes in 2019.

(This work was financed by the McNight Foundation)

Traders in Food Value Chains: a case study of the beef trade between Namibia, Botswana and Norway.

Livestock marketing globally is constrained by market access because of transboundary diseases. There are few examples of developing countries where market access for beef products to high value markets has been achieved. Exports of meat cuts from the arid countries of Namibia and Botswana to Norway are one such. This case study explores the winners and losers in this trade and proposes a conceptual framework for future analysis of the developmental benefits of market access schemes. This project started in 2014 and ends in 2019.

(This work was supported by the Norwegian Economic Research Council)


An enduring challenge facing the development of smallholder cassava production and processing is the rapid speed that fresh cassava deteriorates after harvest – Postharvest Physiological Deterioration or PPD.  This project, the winner of a global challenge to find a cheap solution to the problem, developed a simple bag system at scale that allows cassava to be stored for at least 8 days after harvest.  We call this system NRICassavaBag.  The project started in 2017 and ends in 2019.

(This work was supported by the Rockefeller Foundation)

Sustainable Yam Markets in Madagascar

Working with the Royal Botanical Gardens Kew, and NGOs in Madagascar, this project seeks to develop production and marketing of yams to address the challenge of yam biodiversity loss in situ. The project includes yam storage trials for newly identified indigenous yam varieties. The project started in 2018 and finishes in 2020.

(This work was supported by DEFRA under the Darwin Initiative)

Stemming Aflatoxin in Groundnuts

The presence of carcinogen producing mycotoxins in the groundnut value chains of the humid tropics is a serious threat to human health and greatly inhibits export potential.  This project considered various aspects of groundnut postharvest management in Malawi and Zambia.  In particular, is demonstrated empirically that the in-field drying practices recommended in these countries were likely to increase mycotoxin contamination.  This project started in 2014 and finished in 2017.

(This work was supported by the European Commission)

Increasing Performance of the Cassava Industry in West and Central Africa (IPCI)

Cassava processing and small and medium scale is a necessary aspect of sectoral development, especially when efforts are being made to improve smallholder productivity.  This project supported a range of IFAD investments across West and Central Africa (Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Ghana, Republic of Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo) with technical back-stopping for cassava processing equipment development and installations.  A mobile phone application was developed in Nigeria for factory owners to find local suppliers of cassava processing equipment ( and a range of cassava manuals and tools were made available.  Collaboration between West & Central Africa and Brazil was fostered.  The project ran from 2014 to 2017.

(This work was supported by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD))

Development of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS)

Good estimates of postharvest cereal losses are important for agricultural policy development, informing food balance sheet calculations for the assessment of national food security, and for monitoring and evaluating loss reduction projects. The African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS) was developed to deliver these services by the creation and integration of a network of local postharvest experts, a cereal postharvest losses information system and a losses calculator. APHLIS provides best estimates of the cumulative annual weight losses of cereal grains, by province, for the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa. The network is a contribution to recent international efforts to reduce postharvest losses, which is a resource efficient approach to improving food availability. For more details see the APHLIS website.

(APHLIS was developed for the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, 2009 – 2014 in collaboration with the German Ministry of Food)

Development of a postharvest handling and storage training manual for the Purchase for Progress (P4P) project

The development of local food grain markets is potentially an important means of improving both national food security and the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. The World Food Programme's P4P project procures grain from smallholders to be used as food aid to refugees and in school feeding schemes. A key element in the process is the training of farmers groups to produce grain of the required quality and then to deliver it to, and maintain its quality at, the first collection point. A big boost has been given to this process by the development of a 'Training Manual for Improving Grain Postharvest Handling and Storage', in both English and French, for use by WFP training staff and their partners. The manual gives clear guidelines and instructions on how to retain grain quality throughout the supply chain. Although various scattered materials on aspects of PHHS at different scales were already available this is the first time that they had been combined and concentrated as one source of information in a manual of this kind. The PHHS training manual is also illustrated throughout with simple, clear cartoons that express some of the many basic messages. The manual gives recommendation on approaches to training as well as the technical details of how grain should be handled and stored to assure good quality. It is also accompanied by a CD holding a set of key presentations and facilitators' notes. The current version has been devised specifically for SSA. A loose-leaf folder style enables trainers in the different countries to customise the manual, with blank versions of the step-by-step visual training posters that can be easily converted to local languages, and to add in details of their specific standards and grain protectant recommendations.

(The manual was developed for UN World Food Programme, 2011 - 2013) 

Establishment of a Warehouse Receipts System in Uganda

Warehouse receipt systems are an important means of providing financial credit to farming groups. For many countries they also offer the first steps in the development of formal grain trading through the enforcement of grades and standards that result in higher payments for better quality produce. Warehouse licencing conditions were developed for a system of negotiable warehouse receipts to be implemented by the Uganda Commodity Exchange. The licencing conditions define the quality management system that is key to the success of warehouse receipts; careful adherence to the licencing conditions is vital if banks are to be confident in accepting gain deposits as collateral for loans. The system was backed up by the training of a Chief Warehouse Examiner and the development and implementation of a training course for warehouse staff.

(The warehouse receipts system was developed for the European Commission, 2006 – 2008)

Integrated Pest Management for Improved Food Security in Maize-Based Farming Systems: Strategies to Control the Larger Grain Borer

The Larger Grain Borer, Prostephanus truncatus (Coleoptera:Bostrichidae), is the most important storage pest of stored maize in Sub-Saharan Africa, and was introduced into the continent from Meso-America in the late 1970s. A pan-tropical project with bases in Mexico, Togo and Kenya was implemented to undertake basic research on the biology and control of the pest, taking advantage of its established status in Mexico to provide insights into its potential future status in Africa, especially the potential for biological control using the specific predator Teretrius nigrescens (Coleoptera: Histeridae). This project laid the foundation to many subsequent initiatives to manage the pest.

(The Larger Grain Borer project was implemented for UK Department of International Development, 1991-1994)

Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops (GRATITUDE)

Cassava and yam are important food security crops for approximately 700 million people. However, losses after harvesting and during processing and distribution can be extremely high.  Gratitude (Gains from Losses of Root and Tuber Crops) is a multi-country public-private partnership funded by the EC 7th Framework Programme and led by NRI in collaboration with 15 other research organisations and private companies in Ghana, Nigeria, Vietnam and Thailand. It aims to

  1. identify the causes, current mitigation measures and the extent of losses,
  2. find solutions and market opportunities that will reduce postharvest losses of root and tuber crops, and
  3. turn unavoidable by-products into something of value.

Technologies and systems developed and validated within the Gratitude project will particularly benefit small-holder households on low incomes, and will support small and medium scale enterprises to increase profitability, create new jobs and develop links to large-scale industry. This project will also enhance the role that these crops play in food security and income generation.

(The GRATITUDE project is being implemented for the European Commission, more details can be found on the GRATITUDE website). 

Grain Quality Control for the Zambian Food Reserve Agency

This project is working with the Food Reserve Agency (FRA) in Zambia to improve the quality of the maize that it stores and reduce the losses. This is being achieved by testing specific changes in the operations of an FRA District Depot and to some extent those of the corresponding Satellite Collection Points, where farmers deliver their grain. In the process, valuable information on the functioning of Satellite Collection Points and the transport of commodity between those and the District Depot are being collected. The project has 5 components:

  1. Training of FRA staff in grading and visual assessment of grain
  2. Training of fumigation contractors and FRA staff in fumigation procedures and checks
  3. District Depot set-up and equipment
  4. Operational processes and procedures at District Depot
  5. Management Information Systems, including use of M-Tech solution for communication between SCP and District Depot, and monitoring and evaluation of the project

(Project implemented with UN World Food Programme Funding)

Cassava: Adding Value for Africa

The Cassava: Adding Value for Africa (C:AVA) Project is developing value chains for High Quality Cassava Flour (HQCF) in Ghana, Tanzania, Uganda, Nigeria and Malawi to improve the livelihoods and incomes of at least 90,000 smallholder households as direct beneficiaries including women and disadvantaged groups.
The project is led by the NRI working closely with: University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Nigeria; Food Research Institute, Ghana; Tanzania Food and Nutrition, Tanzania; Africa Innovations Institute, Uganda; and Chancellor College, University of Malawi and a range of other partners.

(C'AVA is financed by BMG Foundation, more details can be found on the C'AVA website). 

Understanding micronutrient postharvest losses in biofortified crops

Orange-fleshed sweetpotato (OFSP) can be used to tackle vitamin A deficiency, a major public health problem in most developing countries. In East Africa, common ways of using sweetpotato include drying and subsequent storage. The potential postharvest losses in total carotenoid retention were investigated. Losses of carotenoids during storage were considered to be more of a nutritional constraint to the utilisation of dried sweetpotato than losses occurring during drying. The relationship between characteristics of the cultivars and losses of carotenoids during drying need to be taken into account in selection of cultivars for processing

(This work was undertaken for HarvestPlus, more details can be found on the HarvestPlus website).