Tuesday, 04 December 2012

Post Harvest losses: A different kind of food waste

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When we think of food waste, we often think about the massive amount of food we throw away in the developed world; uneaten food in our homes or unsold food from grocery stores and restaurants. But food waste also exists in countries with high rates of malnutrition and poverty, and it’s a huge contributor to global hunger. An estimated 15-50% of food produced in the developing world is lost after it’s harvested, often due to a lack of proper storage or processing technologies.

In a recent post on the Global Agriculture Development Initiative’s blog, CTI Senior Advisor Alexandra Spieldoch writes about post harvest losses and the need for technologies that can address this food waste and eliminate a major contributor to global hunger.

“There is little reliable data on post-harvest loss (PHL) and until recently it hasn’t played a big part in agricultural investment strategies. Only four percent of development assistance goes to agriculture and little of it for post-harvest programs. In light of high prices and lack of food availability, there seems to be new recognition that the world community can do more to prevent post-harvest loss as a means to meet world food demand.

In one of the most comprehensive reports to date, Missing Food: the Case of Post-Harvest Loss in Sub-Saharan Africa, the World Bank, the UN FAO and the UK Natural Resources Institute indicate that over 4 billion dollars of grain are lost annually in Sub Saharan Africa, which is enough to feed 48 million people for 12 months. PHL equals half of the region’s annual grain imports, and exceeds the total amount received through food aid over the last decade.  More investment in post-harvest technologies in Africa has great potential to improve food security as well as improve the lives of poor farmers. Helping small-scale women farmers get access to innovative, affordable tools that help them harvest, store and process their crops is a game-changer for development.”

Check out the full article on the  Global Agricultural Development Initiative’s Global Food for Thought Blog.

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