The FAO, African Union and Rockefeller Foundation project aims to help countries reduce their post-harvest losses by 2030, by strengthening the necessary policies and strategies.
Food that “disappears” from the food chain after harvesting due to spoilage could feed about 48 million people in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Our work with the Rockefeller Foundation and the African Union to make food supply chains more efficient will contribute to the incomes of small farmers in Africa and put less pressure on the environment, thus contributing to our ideal of a world without hunger,” said FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva.
For his part, Rafael Flor, director of the Rockefeller Foundation’s “YieldWise” initiative, pointed out: “We are twelve years away from the goal and so far we have not progressed enough. We are close to a turning point in terms of food loss… and food waste – he added -, about which there is sufficient awareness among governments and the private sector, but governments have not made much progress so far.
Governments around the world have committed to halving food loss and waste by 2030 in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). On the other hand, based on the Malabo Declaration, the member countries of the African Union have set an ambitious goal of halving post-harvest losses by 2025.
“Our aim is to support the African Union and its institutions in developing policies and designing strategic solutions to address food loss and waste with impact at all levels, including policy, capacity building and research, and at the value chain level with farmers, producers and traders” , explained Cephas Taruvinga, FAO’s Chief Technical Advisor for the project.
The 18-month project started in February 2017 and focused on post-harvest losses of staple crops in the pilot countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, as well as policy support for the African Union Commission.
Post-harvest losses refer to the reduction in quality and quantity of food – such as grains, fruits, vegetables, meat, fish and milk – that occurs between the farm and the point of sale, before it can be consumed.
FAO estimates show that post-harvest losses can reach up to 20 percent for cereals, 30 percent for dairy products and fish, and 40 percent for fruits and vegetables. Much of this deterioration occurs due to a lack of technology, insufficient knowledge of supply chains, limited access to markets, poor infrastructure and inadequate financing.
Halving these losses in Africa requires a global and systemic approach, so the project supports strengthening links in the food production value chain, better markets and infrastructure, more appropriate technical solutions and helping governments to offer favorable policies and investments.
Strategic policies and solutions are developed and implemented both in the African Union and in the pilot countries. Assessments of the extent of post-harvest losses are also being carried out for each country’s priority crops, including the maize, milk and tomato supply chain, and technical working groups have been formed to develop national strategies and coordinate activities. after harvest in Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Through the project, more than a hundred stakeholders and technical staff have been trained in post-harvest management, and in Tanzania, FAO’s food loss analysis methodology has been incorporated into tertiary training programmes. In addition, a monitoring and evaluation framework was developed to monitor progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals and the Malabo goals.
At the same time, simple and practical solutions are being tested, such as hermetically sealed bags that can store cereals for longer and reusable boxes for transporting fresh fruits and vegetables, thus reducing damage during transport. Successful solutions and practices tested in the project will be replicated across Africa.