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SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

Presentation of the SAVE FOOD Study in India

FAO carries out field studies on the root causes and “mechanics” of chickpea, mango, milk and rice losses in India Between May and July 2016 the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) carried out extensive studies on food losses in various areas of India. This was made possible by the contributions made by members of the SAVE FOOD Initiative.

The scientific work focused on all stages of the value chain for chickpeas, mangos, milk and rice, quantified losses and shows approaches for counter measures. As a first step researchers drew on existing sets of data from numerous Indian research institutes from the food and agricultural sector, for instance, to then gain further insights through their field studies. To this end, farmers, processors, wholesalers and retailers as well as forwarders and warehouse operators were interviewed on a scientific basis. In addition to this, shipments were tracked on their transport routes in order to capture the quantity of losses. In the case of mangos the researchers also interviewed export business stakeholders. Studies of this kind are an important prerequisite for curbing food losses in a targeted manner, which cause a particular problem in developing countries as they prevent the majority of produced foodstuffs from reaching consumers. In a best-case scenario the insights gained on general “mechanics” can be transferred to other food categories or similar markets.

These efforts are generally aimed at approaches for building capacities along the supply chain, the targeted use of technology but also for training producers, the installation of local storage and distribution centres as well as raising general awareness about greater efficiency and sustainability. The study in India is the second of its kind funded by the SAVE FOOD Initiative. In the run-up to interpack 2014 food losses in Kenya were already examined. The results of the India study will be presented as part of the SAVE FOOD Congress on the first day of the interpack 2017 trade fair in Düsseldorf.

Applying FAO methodology to assess losses including causes and solutions in four food subsectors in India; rice, chickpea, milk and mango

The field case studies to assess losses as well as identifying causes and solution for losses in four selected food supply chains in Andhra Pradesh - India in the subsectors rice, chickpea, milk and mango is a key activity of the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction. These studies are funded by Messe Düsseldorf, and implemented by a consultancy firm which was selected by FAO through a competitive bidding process. The terms of reference for the studies, including the methodology, have been developed by the agro food industry group of the FAO nutrition and food system division (ESN), and thorough instruction and discussion with the team of the consultancy firm - Sathguru Management Consultants, took place to achieve full compliance and comprehension as well as uniformity in execution of the studies.

Objectives of the field case studies

The problem of food waste and loses is of such magnitude and complexity that it cannot be addressed by one organization alone. World-wide, many initiatives are currently being taken to reduce food losses and waste but there is a lack of coordination and collaboration sometimes lead to potential overlapping and duplication. In addition, as the body of evidence and understanding is developed, lessons learned, new findings and best practices should be easily accessible to all those working on food loss and waste reduction.

This project aims to:

  1. increase awareness on the causes, impact and approaches to reduce food losses,
  2. enhance collaboration and synergy of initiatives on food loss reduction;
  3. increase adoption of good practices to reduce food losses in specific value chains. It will do so by providing a platform for centralizing and sharing information, developing analysis, creating necessary coordination mechanisms and supporting capacity building on FLW Reduction.

Innovation

The project supported the development of a new methodology to assess the extent, causes, impact of food losses and solutions. In the past 40 years the classical approach to reduce postharvest losses was based on statistical surveys and rural appraisals, followed by technology interventions and economic analysis. This appeared not to be sufficiently successful. The new methodology of field case studies goes deeper in the complex subject matter of FL, finds the symptoms, causes and reasons for the causes of FL, discloses interactions along the food supply chains, and above all assesses the feasibility of solutions against the background reality of social structures, cultural habits, the climate and environment, the contribution to nutrition and food security.

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