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Post-harvest management

Click to download the report of the FAO/World Bank workshop on reducing post-harvest losses in grain supply chains in Africa

Over the past decade, domestic and international food markets have undergone rapid transformation and the global food production and distribution system is changing from a sector dominated by family-based farms and small-scale, relatively independent firms to one of larger, global companies that are more tightly integrated and aligned up and down the food supply chain.

Increasing emphasis on higher value farm products to meet the changing diets of urban consumers has focused renewed attention on post-harvest systems, while unacceptably high losses due to poor handling and lack of appropriate infrastructure have reduced economic benefits to small producers.

Post-harvest activities are an integral part of the food production system, and our aim is to promote best practices for post-harvest handling and management along the entire food supply chain, focusing on a broad spectrum of operations and stakeholders in traditional and modern marketing systems. The ultimate goal of the system is to deliver high quality, safe food to consumers.

A working knowledge and understanding of the technical factors that impact on the safety, quality and value of agricultural produce, an appropriate infrastructural support base, proper logistical arrangements, good stakeholder interaction within post-harvest value chains and effective government support services are prerequisites to gaining market access, reducing post-harvest losses and increasing returns to producers.

FAO assists member countries in meeting these goals by:

  • Building the technical capacity of farmers, traders and other stakeholders in good post-harvest handling practices in agricultural value chains; 
  • Developing, consolidating and disseminating information on post-harvest operations through publications and the web-based Information Network on Post-harvest Operations (INPhO);
  • Strengthening the capacity of public and private sector organizations to provide appropriate post-harvest services to their clients;
  • Providing advice and training on the design and proper management of post-harvest specific infrastructure.

Our recent activities in the post-harvest domain include the following:

  • Collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) on an initiative to reduce post-harvest losses (PHL) in Africa. The collaboration is organised around two pillars: (i) screening of AfDB’s agricultural portfolio in order to identify opportunities for introducing PHL reduction and related value addition and marketing activities in on-going and planned operations; and (ii) preparation of a programme framework document on PHL reduction in Africa to guide AfDB’s investment decisions.
  • The FAO/World Bank workshop on Reducing Post Harvest Losses in Grain Supply Chains in Africa which was held in Rome in March 2009. The meeting brought together experts to discuss the significance of PHLs, past experiences in their reduction and future interventions in Sub-Saharan Africa. A meeting report can be downloaded from our Publications section

Missing food. The video

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If you want to order copies of our publications, write to AGS-Publications@fao.org

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