A significant share of the food produced in developing countries gets lost along the supply chain, before it reaches the market. This is true for all agricultural commodities, including fruit and vegetables, grains and pulses, meat and dairy, fish and animal products.
Such food loss has negative impacts on the livelihoods, nutrition and food security of millions of smallholder farmers. Also considering the waste of resources used to grow this lost food, the economic and environmental cost related to this loss is very high.
Food loss reduction offers a clear opportunity to improve global food security, without putting additional pressure on the environment.
IFAD programmes have long supported the reduction of food losses in developing countries. Between 2013 and 2016 IFAD allocated US$433 million, or 12 per cent of total loan disbursement, to on and off-farm post-harvest infrastructure, equipment and capacity building of stakeholders across all value chains. These investments, together with value chain interventions to improve market access and access to rural finance, are essential to enable smallholder farmers to reduce their losses.
IFAD has also partnered with a range of donors to scale-up its work and impact on food loss reduction, with a strong focus on research and innovation. Such partnerships have been funded by DFID, the Irish Government, SDC and the Rockefeller Foundation and involved collaborations with other UN Rome-based agencies. Other agencies have partnered with IFAD and Member States under investment programmes to improve infrastructure geared towards food loss reduction.
Using the FAO Food Loss Assessment methodology, IFAD and its partners have been identifying the critical loss points along commodity value chains, and generating knowledge on where and how to reduce food loss. Research focused on different commodity value chains in Malawi, Ethiopia, Timor-Leste, Uganda, Burkina Faso and DRC. Through a SDC-funded partnership with FAO and WFP, IFAD has further contributed to the development of a web-based global knowledge platform, the Community of Practice on food loss reduction.
We are living in difficult times. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and all the fallout that has ensued, nothing is quite as easy as it was – unless, of course, you can do it from the comfort of your home, armed with a smartphone and a good internet connection.
Reducing food losses makes food systems more sustainable. Although the exact causes are different for every crop and in every country, there are plenty of avenues to prevent, detect, and reverse these losses.
The objective of this study is to estimate the qualitative and quantitative losses along the sorghum, maize and cowpea supply chains, to highlight the critical points of losses and to identify the main causes of the losses.