SAVE FOOD: Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction

UN Agencies signal the need to scale up food loss interventions

©FAO/Olivier Asselin
03 Oct 2017

Following a joint-event on the lessons learnt from a food loss reduction project implemented collaboratively by the Rome-based UN food agencies, the group called for the scaling up of pilot projects to adequately meet the required reduction in food loss.

Representatives of the RBAs – the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) – emphasized the absolute urgency to move beyond piloting to upscale successful food loss interventions for even greater impact. “Pilots such as the ones conducted with the support of the Swiss Development Cooperation and the Irish-funded United Nations Joint Project have proven essential in identifying appropriate solutions to food losses in developing countries,” the agencies shared.

In addition to scaling up successful pilots, a clear message on the need to enhance synergies with the private sector, further support smallholder farmers and their organizations, improve training and capacity building efforts and to strengthen impact assessment methodologies was sent by experts in attendance. There were further calls for stronger collaboration and partnership and the creation of governance systems to coordinate multi-stakeholder action for organizations working on food loss and waste reduction. 

During the joint event, Kostas Stamoulis, Assistant Director-General of FAO’s Economic and Social Development Department, highlighted the necessity to expand food loss activities in addition to the multidimensional needs inherent in moving from pilot to large-scale initiatives. “The next steps to scale up our actions with our developing country partners will require financial resources, human resources, capacity building, communications and investment incentives. Only then can we create discernible changes in loss levels that can be measured and reflected in the national food loss index”. In 2015 FAO was mandated by the United Nations to measure and monitor food loss and waste and is in the process of developing a Global Food Loss Index which will enable countries to better measure and report on food supply chain losses. 

Ramiro da Silva, WFP’s Assistant Executive Director, noted that the RBAs have “the brain, the money and the muscle” required to bring its food loss reduction activities to scale. “FAO brings to the partnership technical knowledge and research tools, IFAD contributes its experience in leveraging funds for agricultural investment, while WFP offers longstanding experience in managing operations in the field,” he shared.

Michel Mordasini, IFAD Vice President, stressed the critical role of smallholder farmers in reducing losses. "Food losses occur mainly in developing countries, where the largest share of producers farm on small plots of land. To reduce food losses in these countries we must actively engage smallholder farmers and invest in their capacities," he said.
Underscoring that long-term food loss reduction activities should be built by strong partnerships, senior officials reflected on the complementarity of each organization’s approach. Nowhere is this complementarity more apparent than in the ‘Mainstreaming Food Loss Reduction Initiatives for Small-holders in Food‑Deficit Areas’ project launched in 2014.

Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation-funded joint intervention 

The three Rome-based agencies are implementing a joint project funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. 'Mainstreaming Food Loss Reduction Initiatives for Small-holders in Food‑Deficit Areas'  was designed to improve food security and income generation opportunities through a reduction of food losses in grains and pulses value chains in food deficit areas. To support these goals, the Community of Practice (CoP) on Food Loss Reduction was established to promote knowledge sharing and partnership building. An e-learning module will be launched in early 2018 covering food loss analysis through case studies in the small-scale agriculture and fisheries subsectors.
The project has contributed to improved handling and storage options within grain and pulse value chains, through the piloting of solutions designed to benefit smallholder farmers in Burkina Faso (maize, sorghum and cowpea), Uganda (maize, oilseeds and beans) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (rice and maize).The second phase of the project, which began in July 2017 aims to support governments in establishing regulatory frameworks – policy, standards, norms – for reducing food losses in food supply chains.

Learn more about the 'RBA collaboration on food loss and waste reduction joint event' held on 7 September here.