FAO Regional Office for Near East and North Africa

FAO hosts National Workshop for Reducing Loss and Waste in the Grain Value Chain in Tunisia

Workshop Participants

6 December 2017, Tunis, Tunisia – In the Near East and North Africa region, losses and waste in the grain sector are estimated at 19 percent. A study carried out by the Tunisian National Institute of Statistics (INS) on bread waste, showed that 900,000 units of bread are wasted per day, worth 100 million Tunisian dinars ($ 50 million) a year. Being the basic food source for the Tunisian and Mediterranean population in general, food expenses related to cereals represent about 149 Tunisian dinar/person/year, according to the INS, or 13 percent of total food expenditure.

As a step towards reducing losses from the production to the processing stages, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has hosted a national workshop focusing on post-harvest losses and waste reduction in the grain value chain. Workshop participants include key stakeholders and decision makers such as producers, transporters, collection centers, storage units, processors, technical agencies, donors, trade unions, civil society and representatives of ministries operating in the grain industry.

The main objectives of the workshop are to:

  1. present, discuss and validate the results of the grain loss study;
  2. propose actions to be undertaken by each partner (public, private and civil society) to reduce losses;
  3. prioritize the actions that should be undertaken within the project; and
  4. following the working group discussions, develop a preliminary action plan for the reduction of losses in the grain sector.

“This project focuses on grain losses and waste to improve the operation of their value chains, reduce losses, and reduce any negative environmental footprint, as post-harvest grain losses have a direct impact on natural resources: land, water, labor and energy. The methodology advocated by FAO and developed by the project team aims at identifying and quantifying the critical points of dysfunction, then finding appropriate solutions to reduce losses and waste and develop value chains,” said Michael Hage, FAO Sub-Regional Coordinator for North Africa.

The grain sector is a vital industry in Tunisia. It occupies an average of 1.5 million hectares or 30 percent of the cultivated area and makes up 6.5 percent of working days created by all agricultural activities. The grain sector also represents 12–15 percent of the value of agricultural production and is the main source of income for about 50 percent of farmers.

“The analysis conducted on grain losses and waste has studied the whole value chain stages from harvest through collection and storage. It is worth noting that the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries selected the grain value chain to further analyze and increase knowledge on this sector. By studying the grain value chain, specifically the losses and waste that occur throughout, it will lead to the implementation of activities to reduce losses and waste at each stage of the value chain,” said Boubakar Karray, Head of the Ministry of Agriculture, Water Resources and Fisheries.

The agenda of the workshop included:

  1. a presentation of the project, methodology used, and the results of the study conducted;
  2. a detailed explanation of the grain value chain and presentation of the results for the grain losses at different stages of the value chain; and
  3. a discussion to validate and prioritize actions to be undertaken to reduce losses and waste. At this stage, three working groups will be created, one for each segment: production, collection and storage, and processing. They will review, validate, propose and prioritize actions to reduce food losses and waste in the relevant segment.

Following the completion of each working group, detailed work plan matrices will be presented providing clear orientation for appropriate actions to be undertaken by each stakeholder in coordination with the whole value chain group. The aggregation of these detailed action plans will contribute to the development and implementation of a national grain loss and waste reduction program which could be a source of inspiration for possible replication in other value chains.