14 How to reduce food loss and waste while better connecting smallholders to markets.

Showcasing solutions, sharing experiences and identifying challenges in helping smallholders to avoid food losses & waste, to be connected to markets, to protect their livelihoods & increase incomes.

Organizers: Brazil, Italy, Costa Rica, FAO

Abstract

The event intends to feed in the CFS 43 discussions about “Connecting smallholders to markets” while continuing producing synergies with the FLW debate, object of a 2014 HLPE Report and CFS Policy Recommendations. Actions to reduce FLW, especially focused on smallholders, can play a crucial role in achieving SDG 2; SDG 12.3 “by 2030, halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses”; help the environment and also promote social inclusion. Promoting sustainable consumption can also reduce FLW and help family farmers and small-scale producers connect and stay connected to markets. Building on lessons learned from “Dialogue on access, recovery and redistribution of food: actions to expand food supply and reduce FLW”, a CFS 42 side event organized by Brazil, Italy and FAO, the proposed event aims to showcase solutions and identify challenges faced by smallholders to avoid food loss and waste, access markets, protect their livelihoods and increase their incomes while supporting food and nutrition security for rural and urban consumers. Experiences to be shared pertain to sustainable nutrition sensitive food systems, including post-harvest practices, such as handling, storage, packaging and logistics, as well as actions that promote sustainable consumption.

Key speakers

Opening Remarks by H.E. Maria Laura da Rocha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Representation of Brazil to FAO

Introduction by moderator, Ms. Anna Lartey, Director – Nutrition and Food Systems Division (FAO)

Ms. Laura Brenes, Coordinator – National Network for FLW Reduction (Costa Rica)

Prof. Aurora Cavallo – Universitas Mercatorum, Rome (Italy)

Mr. Xie Jianmin, Deputy Permanent Representative – Permanent Representation of China to FAO  

Mr. Caio Tibério Dornelles da Roca, National Secretary for Food and Nutritional Security – Ministry of Social and Agrarian Development (Brazil)

Ms. Judith Hitchmann, President – Urgenci, Civil Society Mechanism (CSM)

Ms. Ann Steensland, Deputy Director – Global Harvest Initiative, Private Sector Mechanism (PSM)

Mr. Robert van Otterdijk, Agro-Industry Officer – Nutrition and Food Systems Division – FAO Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD): Food loss case studies in developing countries: Smallholder focus

Main themes/issues discussed

The event showcased the causes of and solutions applied to and by smallholders to reduce food loss and waste. Concrete experiences along the food supply-chain (from production, wholesale, retail to consumer level) were shared by the public and private sector and civil society. Experiences highlighted, for instance, how inadequate infrastructure and difficulty in adjusting supply to demand can impact food losses and how increased organization of smallholders can provide a solution. 

Smallholders produce food that contributes to healthy, diverse and balanced diets and they can play an important role in connecting consumers to the source of food production, including reduction of the distance between the two. The side event highlighted the importance of promoting experience sharing and best practices in order to facilitate further actions recognizing the context specificity of solutions and the different challenges faced by low-income developing and developed countries.

Summary of key points

Concerted efforts are required to prevent and reduce food losses for smallholders. This necessitates strategic actions in food supply chain level interventions that include production, handling, storage, processing and distribution.  These actions must allow for fair competitive conditions, public-private investments with short, medium, and long term returns, and access to markets - that can be local, national, regional or global. Solutions to addressing food waste and loss should focus on three key areas: infrastructure, organization of farmers and optimisation of the distance between the farm and the consumer.  “Lonely farmers” face higher risks. When part of an association, they can join forces to  benefit from more opportunities and place their products strategically in the market according to demand.

Key outcomes/take away messages

The opening remarks by H.E. Maria Laura da Rocha, Ambassador and Permanent Representative – Permanent Representation of Brazil to FAO introduced the topic as a follow up for the ‘Dialogue on Access, Recovery and Redistribution of Food: Actions to Expand Food Supply and Reduce Food Losses and Waste’, a CFS 42 side event organized by Brazil and Italy.

Ms. Anna Lartey, Moderator, Director – Nutrition and Food Systems Division (FAO) introduced the side event on “Reducing food loss and waste while connecting smallholders to markets” as related to the corresponding CFS 43 discussion (on Connecting Smallholders to Markets) and underlined the need to address food loss reduction including factors that may affect the nutritional availability, accessibility and quality of food, a topical concern in the Framework of Action of the FAO/WHO Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), the U.N. Decade of Action on Nutrition as well as in the 2030 Agenda and in CFS policy recommendations.

Ms. Laura Brenes, Coordinator – National Network for FLW Reduction (Costa Rica) highlighted that the general context in Costa Rica concerns different actors along the value chains that are connected to farmers’ markets, wholesale, differentiated (organic), supermarkets, direct sales. Changes in consumption patterns due to changes in family structure were mentioned. From September to October 2016 the Network implemented the food loss case study methodology developed by FAO’s Global Initiative on FLW Reduction (SAVE FOOD) in two farmers markets, one mixed market, and one wholesale market. The results indicated that: 1. farmers markets, due to the high level of physical manipulation of the produce, have a higher level of loss. However, aggregation and coordination among producers is a vantage point along with the connection to school meals programmes; 2. Wholesalers can select quality before reaching the selling point and this facilitates lower levels of losses. Moreover, agro-industry development was mentioned as being relevant to ensuring value addition, quality and safety standards. The National Network is part of FAO’s Regional Global Initiative on FLW Reduction (SAVE FOOD). The success of a group of 7 families in Costa Rica, who now share storage and transportation facilities, and can sell their produce to different markets in case of over-supply, was highlighted.

Prof. Aurora Cavallo – Universitas Mercatorum, Rome (Italy) indicated that food loss and food waste are context dependent. In the efforts to address this global problem evidence is needed at the local level in order to implement solutions that consider the environmental and the socio-economic impacts of FLW concurrently. The European Union has provided the framework of the Circular Economy Package to work on FLW issues and it will launch in November 2016 the EU Platform on FLW. Interventions along the food supply chain in Italy concern prevention as well as resource (re-)utilization. Capacity along the food supply chains is key to FLW reduction. Italy has a Food Waste Prevention and Reduction Law (Law n.116/2016). The National Plan for Innovation of the Italian Ministry of Agriculture could bring relevant results through the EU Regional Plan for Rural Development, in particular for small businesses. Two examples of Italian innovation include “Orange Fiber”, which is high-quality cloth produced from orange peels and “CartaCrusca”, paper produced from wheat bran.

Mr. Xie Jianmin, Deputy Permanent Representative – Permanent Representation of China to FAO highlighted that FLW impacts food security and nutrition and that there is a need to strengthen experience sharing and data quality and availability for the SDGs. Addressing torage losses necessitates investments in logistics and new technologies in the context of the green economy. At the same time, effective communication on nutrition and health is needed to enable a healthy lifestyle and good nutrition while reducing food waste. Cooperatives and other social groups are encouraged to reduce transaction costs and improve negotiation capacity. China is making efforts in the context of five development concepts: innovation, coordination, green development, opening-up, and sharing, through but not limited to legislation, infrastructure construction and public communication, ICT and the model of “Company+farmer,”  all of which are very effective in connecting smallholders to markets.

Mr. Caio Tibério Dornelles da Roca, National Secretary for Food and Nutritional Security – Ministry of Social and Agrarian Development (Brazil) underlined the essential role that public policies (such as public purchases programmes in schools) play in the reduction and prevention of FLW in order to ensure that SDG 2 and 12.3 are achieved. The Outcomes of ICN2 have indicated that food systems capacity to ensure food security and nutrition need to also address FLW while considering the Right to Adequate Food. EMBRAPA, as a research institution, supports the national efforts in Brazil. Consumer education ― with programmes on cooking and kitchen facilities that are publicly available ― is key together with recovery and redistribution of safe and nutritious food for direct human consumption (e.g., food banks that since 2003 reached 223 in Brazil) that require also logistical, organizational, and policy/regulatory support. 

Ms. Judith Hitchmann, President – Urgenci, Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) introduced the topic within the context of SDG 12.3 and for the interventions that focus on local production and consumption. Examples were given from Japan, Romania, Spain. Consumers need to be empowered, as part of the civil society – e.g., community supported agriculture and collective processing and cooking skills that address produce seasonality. Educating people to preserve food and to store food for use during the off-season could be helpful.

Ms. Ann Steensland, Deputy Director – Global Harvest Initiative, Private Sector Mechanism (PSM) initiated by stating that smallholders need to have access to innovation and technologies. Agricultural productivity in developing countries is not yet growing as fast as needed. Storage facilities, access to markets and energy for cold chains as well as affordable finance is paramount. Concurrently, there is a need to 1. ensure seed varieties that respond to climate change; 2. bio-fortification context-specific requirements; 3. animal welfare. Moreover, women’s access to inputs and markets need to be strengthened. The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)’s Postharvest Loss Alliance for Nutrition (PLAN) has data on significant losses in the tomato food supply chain in Nigeria where there is, at the same time, a high prevalence of Vitamin A deficiency as well as imports of tomatoes/tomato products. Key areas of intervention: technologies, agro-industries, short food supply chains between the growers and processors. PLAN developed as a tool to address the loss and waste of nutrient dense perishable foods.

Mr. Robert van Otterdijk, Agro-Industry Officer – Nutrition and Food Systems Division – FAO Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD): Food loss case studies in developing countries: Smallholder focus. The multi-dimensional and multi-disciplinary food loss case study methodology developed by FAO’s Global Initiative on FLW Reduction (SAVE FOOD) is publicly available and addresses the need to have a concrete tool that can map, at food supply chain level, food losses while providing the necessary information to identify the most appropriate solution. Dimensions of food losses such as social, including gender, environmental, economic, and technological have been integrated. Currently ongoing studies in around 30 countries. FAO Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction (SAVE FOOD) responds to government request for capacity development in the area of FLW and in reaching SDG 12.3.