Monday, 6 June 2011

Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa

Photo: ©FAO/Franco Mattioli
Maize crib used as a sack store for dried grain by rendering the sides rainproof and fitting rat guards to the legs, Nigeria.
31 May 2011, Rome/Accra - Investing in post-harvest technologies to reduce food losses could significantly increase the food supply in sub-Saharan Africa, according to a new FAO/World Bank report released today as technical experts from around the region meet to discuss the issue.

The report (April 2011, 95 pages), Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa, produced in collaboration with the UK's Natural Resources Institute, estimates the value of post-harvest grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa at around $4 billion a year.

The World Bank undertook this policy-oriented research of the current state of knowledge and technology related to post harvest losses (PHL) reduction. It did so in collaboration with FAO, with the expertise of the U.K. Natural Resources Institute, and with contributions of key PHL stakeholders and institutions, capturing lessons from past interventions that could provide insights for the implementation of effective PHL strategies.

This analysis looks at the evolution of public and private sector responses over the last two decades to reduce losses along the various stages of the supply chains and supports and to build on the African Development Bank’s current Post Harvest Loss Initiative for SSA. It also highlights critical factors that determine technology uptake and sustainable use, with a focus on gender dimensions of technology adoption for reducing PHL.

While the profile of PHL has been raised for a number of commodities in SSA, this report focuses on grains, which still constitute the basis for food security for the majority of the population in the region and are a vital component in the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. According to estimates provided by the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS), physical grain losses (prior to processing) can range from 10 to 20 percent. 

The Postharvest Losses Information System was created within the framework of the project “Postharvest Losses Database for Food Balance Sheet Operations.” This was fi nanced by the European Commission within the work program of its Joint Research Centre (Italy) and implemented by a consortium led by the Natural Resources Institute (United Kingdom) and including ISICAD/BLE (Germany), ASARECA, and SADC/FANR; national experts contributed through the PHL network.

Interview with FAO expert Divine Divine Njie

In this interview, FAO expert Divine Njie discusses the report's findings.