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SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction

The CoP presented at FAO regional validation workshop for food loss reduction strategy development in favour of smallholder producers in Africa.

A three-day validation workshop organized in the framework of the project entitled ‘Food loss reduction strategy development in favour of smallholder producers in Africa Phase 1’ was held in Harare, Zimbabwe from 15 to 17 March 2016. The workshop is part of a project launched in 2014, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and implemented by FAO in eleven African countries (Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe) in partnership with respective Ministries of Agriculture and other stakholders.

The activities and outcomes of the workshops included the following:

a) Presentations with Q&A sessions

The presentations from FAO attracted interesting questions and subsequent discussions, including on: Save Food Global Initiative, the Community of Practice on food loss reduction, information on other initiatives related to Food Loss (FL) reduction e.g. from the BMG Foundation; the G20 Technical Platform on Food Loss and Waste, and the RF YieldWise project,  APHLIS loss calculator ; trends in FL over the past 10 years; specific FL figures in horticulture, and tools for assessing these; criteria for selecting value chains by the project research; clarification on qualitative FL; estimation of opportunity cost for FL reduction; implementation of national FL reduction strategies, and their impact, environmental issues and gender consideration.

In addition, the issue of aflatoxin was extensively discussed. Clarifications were provided on how to approach it in the field case studies assessments. Especially, it was indicated that aflatoxin is a symptom of losses; its cause is fungal activity due to insufficient drying of grain. Farmers often harvest the maize before it is well dried in the field, and subsequently do not take enough time to finalize drying because they need to sell quickly due to lack of cash (poverty) and in some cases the risk of theft.

b) Working group sessions to discuss and present country results of the food loss studies 

Food losses studies undertaken along the supply chains for a range of different commodities, including maize, millet, potato, legumes and horticulture were presented. Incentives for public and private sector stakeholders to reduce osses in the contexts of the different countries, and suggestions of improvements of the case study methodology used for food loss assessments were discussed.

In the framework of the RBAs joint project on food loss reduction in food deficit areas, the National Focal Point of Uganda Ms Harriet Muyinza, the lead consultant on the maize and sunflower loss assessments Mr Michael Otim, the FAO-UGANDA staff Ms Stella Sengendo, and a member of the private sector involved in the IFAD VODP programme, Mr Fred Kasango, animated a dedicated working group session (see photo).  

Working group session © Cephas Taruvinga/FAO

 Photo: Working group session © Cephas Taruvinga/FAO

 c) Field visit

Two sites in the main wholsale market in Harare were visited to observe losses, and to discuss with the traders the causes and economic value of their food loss; one wholesaler reported 20-25% losses for banana; constraints to adoption of solutions to reduce losses (including high costs of plastic and wooden crates of different sizes that are more robust than cardboard boxes currently being used; and solutions and strategies that need to be put in place (better market infrastructure, organization of the value chain actors; and the need to better evaluate and communicate the profitability of the solutions (costs-benefits) as incentives for investing in them.  

Harare market © Cephas Taruvinga/FAO  Harare market © Cephas Taruvinga/FAO 

Photos: Field visit to Harare market © Cephas Taruvinga/FAO

 Harare market © Mireille Totobesola 

Photo: Field visit to Harare market © Mireille Totobesola/FAO

More than 100 participants from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe attended the workshop and contributed to its outcomes. Participants were members of the teams that conducted loss assessments (generally from universities and research institutes), government officials, private sector representatives, development partners (SDC, Helvetas), AfDB, regional institutions such as FANRPAN; and FAO, IFAD, and WFP officers. 

Mireille Totobesola, project manager of the RBAs joint project on food loss reduction in food deficit areas, introduced and described the CoP on food loss reduction to encourage an enlarged membership, and promote further participation in the CoP Forum online discussions. In addition, she highlighted how participants and their institutions can benefit from and contribute to the CoP.

Useful suggestions were made on how to support the development of policies and regulatory frameworks on food loss reduction in the different countries and how there can contribute to achievement of food loss reduction targets in the the African Union's Malabo Declaration.

Other information can be access here, and also the Proceedings. Related article in The Herald/Zimbabwe here.