Re: Food losses and waste in the context of sustainable food systems - E-consultation to set the track of the study

Divine Njie Agro-food Industries Group, FAO, Italy
30.04.2013

Our work at the Agro-food Industries Group of FAO has centered on promoting and disseminating diverse technologies and strategies which contribute to reducing post-harvest food losses, adding value (including to food waste and food-related waste) and linking small producers and processors to markets.  This has been combined with quality management, logistics and infrastructure systems in order to increase efficiency in a host of food value chains and returns to chain actors in member countries. As an example, we have supported the metallic silo grain storage technology in dozens of developing countries over the last decade, thereby generating information which can be drawn upon to inform the proposed study on such issues as: South-South technology transfer and adaptation; technology integration within value-chain and systemic contexts; and public sector actions to facilitate adoption of technologies and foster their sustainability.  Re-alignment of our intervention strategy, from disjointed, single-point actions to systemic interventions, has been spurred by the changes taking place in global food systems.

Recent appraisal studies and stakeholder consultations we conducted in sub Saharan Africa and Latin America confirmed the importance of cold chain and logistics systems in the efficient functioning of food supply chains and the prevention of food losses and waste, especially of highly perishable commodities like milk, fruits and vegetables. An issue flagged in these studies and consultations which the proposed study could explore further is public and private sector roles in governance, especially as regards the regulatory framework, coordination, infrastructure development and financial support. The proposed study may also seek to understand the critical components and characteristics of these systems in so far as food losses and waste are concerned, the relationship between inadequacy in these systems and the extent of losses and waste, and the contribution of these systems to the sustainability of actions to reduce food losses and waste.

A recent workshop organized in partnership with the World Bank1 and surveys conducted among post-harvest practitioners revealed that the lack of a Community of Practice (CoP) is a key gap in efforts to reduce losses in developing countries. If it existed such a CoP would facilitate evaluation of innovations, sharing of field-based lessons and scaling up of practical lessons and good practices.  To address this gap, a global CoP is being set up within the framework of a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) funded project whose formulation is being led by us. The project shall be implemented jointly by FAO, IFAD and WFP beginning in 2013, and shall pilot the CoP in Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.  It is envisaged that the CoP would inform policy processes not only at national and regional levels, but also global-level mechanisms such as the CFS.

The above mentioned workshop and surveys also underscored the need to promote collaboration and synergy.  In this regard, we have recently initiated work to form a network of partners within the framework of the “zero waste or loss of food” pillar of the UN Secretary General’s Zero Hunger Challenge. In order to make information on post-harvest management and value addition technologies and operations more easily accessible to member countries we are reinforcing and modernizing the well-known INPhO2 web platform.

The Agro-food Industries Group technical officers include: Anthony Bennett, Djibril Drame, Jorge Fonseca, Danilo Mejia, Joseph Mpagalile, Divine Njie (Group Leader) and Robert van Otterdijk. Further information on the Group’s activities can be found at: http://www.fao.org/ag/ags/, or through contacting the following e-mail address: Divine.Njie@fao.org.

1Report available at: http://typo3.fao.org/fileadmin/user_upload/ags/publications/FAO_WB_ph_web.pdf

2Located at:  http://www.fao.org/inpho/en/