Zero post-harvest losses equal to Zero hunger?


Andreia Fausto

Head of Programme at World Food Programme

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One-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted. Food losses happen at each stage of the supply chain, as commodities become damaged, spoiled or lost while harvested, handled, processed, stored and transported. As food systems expand and lengthen, particularly due to urbanization, support is needed to make sure supply chains function well and the impact of post-harvest losses is minimized.

Post-harvest losses have significant nutritional, health, and financial impacts for both consumers and farmers, disproportionately affecting women, who are largely responsible for managing post-harvest drying, cleaning, and storage. For rural families, many of whom already live on the edge of hunger, lost food means lost land, water, fertilizer and income for those who can least afford it. Lost food also deprives farmers of the opportunity to grow and strengthen their businesses. So, what can be done to reduce post-harvest losses and consequently increase the availability of food worldwide, a vital step toward meeting the world’s growing food needs, and one of the pillars of the Zero Hunger Challenge?

  • Adequate training at specific points in the value chain: mainly between erroneous transport and packing practices can expressively reduce many of the losses;
  • Foster private sector development to help rural economies grow involving with local governments;
  • Equipment & supports farmers – by providing access to airtight storage units and drying equipment;
  •  Increase Research Funding on Postharvest loss, as it hasn’t received the required attention globally (< than 5 % has been allocated for this issue in previous years)
  • Advocating for quality standards: still an Achille’s heel in many developing countries. Food quality standards and safety at the national and regional levels with government authorities in charge for food standards needs to be reinforced complemented with training to relevant market actors such as millers and processors.

Only by using better agricultural practices and adequate storage technologies we can contribute to the reduction of losses and help in strengthening food security, and poverty alleviation, increasing returns of smallholder farmers.


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