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Community of Practice on Food Loss Reduction

Democratic Republic of the Congo: experts meet to discuss the development of post-harvest loss management policy and strategy

Food losses are a major issue in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), due to the deficiencies in post-harvest infrastructure, technologies and capacities that affect the country's agricultural sector. On 6 April 2017, key stakeholders met at a workshop in Kinshasa to discuss technical, policy and strategic orientations and recommendations for food loss reduction in the country.

The workshop was organized in the framework of the RBA (Rome-Based UN Agencies) joint project “Mainstreaming food loss reduction initiatives for smallholders in food deficit areas”, funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and jointly implemented by FAO, IFAD and WFP in close collaboration with the Congolese Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Livestock. The event benefited from the participation of government officials from the ministry of agriculture, experts and researchers, members of producers organizations and staff from UN international organizations (FAO, IFAD and WFP). The workshop was opened by the Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Léopold Mulumba, and the FAO Representative in the DRC Mr. Alexis Bonte, while the working sessions were chaired by Mr. Thomas Kembola, Honorary Secretary General of the Ministry of Agriculture.

In his opening speech, Dr. Mulumba described with these words the importance of post-harvest loss reduction in the DRC: “Increased agricultural production must go hand in hand with improved harvesting, storage and processing techniques. That is why we must firmly commit to implementing strategies and interventions to reduce post-harvest losses (PHL) through significant reforms in terms of new policies, programs and initiatives that are consistent with the commitment of Heads of States and Governments in Malabo in 2014 to halve the current levels of post-harvest losses. This commitment is still little taken into account in our country's agricultural development policies and programs. This is why this workshop is timely for the Ministry of Agriculture”.

Drawing on a case study analysis of food losses along the maize and rice supply chains carried out as part of the  RBA joint project, the participants discussed the causes of post-harvest losses in the DRC and proposed a range of policy and technical recommendations aimed at overcoming them. A policy brief, prepared and shared with participants before the workshop, provided the background for the debate. In the coming weeks, this document will be revised to integrate the comments and recommendations made by participants. The revised policy brief will make a useful decision-making tool to guide policymakers in the development of a post-harvest loss reduction strategy.

The main recommendations, elaborated by the workshop participants in the areas of knowledge management, capacity building and policy development, were addressed at the government and its technical and financial partners. The participants recommended inter alia that PHL management is included in future agricultural policies and programs. To sustain this policy-making effort, the participants also recommended that the national statistical services are strengthened in their capacity to collect data on post-harvest losses.

Photos © FAO/ Xavier Farhay