SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Global Roadmap under way for PHL Reduction after Successful Rome Congress

02 Nov 2015

The successful staging of the First International Congress on Post-Harvest Loss Prevention by The ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss (University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign) in association with the Rockefeller Foundation and SAVE FOOD, brought over 300 agricultural professionals from 62 countries to Rome, Italy to explore scalable solutions to post-harvest loss prevention. At the core of the October 4-7 deliberations was the focus on using the current international interest and momentum to galvanize a global reduction in post-harvest losses (PHL).

Emphasizing the role of PHL reduction in filling the gap between demand and supply, climate change reduction and poverty alleviation, participants provided solutions to national, regional and global PHL issues as well as shared organizational studies and academic research in a number of plenary and group sessions.
Bob Easter, President Emeritus of The University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign, highlighted the importance of a roadmap in the agenda for food loss reduction, calling it the ‘missing element’ in global efforts. Easter shared that the Congress’ proceedings would set the stage for the development of a succinct set of targets which will guide stakeholders in reducing PHL losses globally.
Opening Ceremony of the Congress at the Auditorium Antonium in Rome, Italy on October, 5 2015
Participants underscored the need for environmentally friendly cold chain development, particularly in developing countries. Dearmon head Toby Peters called for ‘Cold chain in motion’ or a greater need for refrigerated vehicles to transport agricultural produce across lengthy distances in a safe manner. Peter’s company provides clean cold and power technology. In addition to failing cold chains, the persistent issue of dry chain development was highlighted by a number of participants.

Andrian van der Knaap, chief of logistics and transport at the World Food Programme, emphasized the growing need for greater funding to address post-harvest loss reduction in developing countries. Citing a WFP study of post-harvest funding, van der Knaap deduced that only 5 percent of agricultural funding has gone to post-harvest prevention in the last 30 years, with the vast majority (95 percent) being invested in increasing food production. The logistics and transport chief said that greater priority should be given towards improving handling and storage practices at the farm level. He advocated for a renewed focus on the role of silos, which he said should be considered as “holding accounts’’ for small-scaled farmers. He also shared that airtight storage solutions that are locally sourced have the potential to lift a large number of people out of poverty and noted that where these technologies exist they have largely not been brought up to scale and optimized for local use.

Post-harvest losses in the Fisheries sector were also explored with a number of presentations from specialists from Uruguay, Madagascar, Mauritius and Tanzania. Dr. Hamady Diop from NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa's Development), highlighted the dramatic expansion of aquaculture in Africa.

Dr. Hamady Diop from NEPAD (New Partnership for Africa’s Development) speaks on African fisheries loss reduction at the recently held First International Congress on Post-Harvest Loss Prevention
Dr. Diop’s presentation on exploratory and quantitative fish loss assessments in Africa concluded that quality lost accounted for 70 percent of the total fish losses on the continent, while physical loss resulted in a relatively small 5 percent. This underscored the need to educate different actors within the fish value chains. Diop shared a number of recommendations to support a regional strategy for fisheries development in Africa which include sensitizing member states via the CAADP process on the importance of funding fisheries loss prevention.
The marginalization of indigenous or traditional vegetables and other foods in PHL assessments was also highlighted as participants voiced the need to assess the crop-specific challenges of traditional produce, including their losses and possible interventions.

Highlighting the synergy between gender and food loss reduction, Etharin Cousin, executive director of the World Food Programme, emphasized the importance of women’s empowerment in agriculture and the benefits to be accrued from their more equitable participation. ‘Food markets don’t perform when they ignore women’s needs. Women are 80% of farming workforce in cases,’ she said. Her sentiments were also shared by Judith Rodin, president of the Rockefeller Foundation. Rodin also emphasized the role that PHL reduction can play in climate change mitigation and reiterated her foundation’s commitment to a sustained PHL reduction programme.

Participants discuss the outcomes of the Conference during a special Roadmap building session on October 7

On the final day of the Congress, participants were grouped according to areas of the food supply chain and charged with brainstorming ideas for PHL reduction. These ideas were amalgamated and are now feeding into the development of a PHL reduction roadmap which is being led by the ADMI, the SAVE FOOD Initiative and the Rockefeller Foundation among others. The Global Roadmap for Post-Harvest Loss Prevention is slated to be made public at a soon to be announced date in December 2015.

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