Post harvest innovations needed to prevent food losses

Over 80% of total food loss in sub-Saharan Africa is due to improper harvest and post-harvest handling, processing and packing. Poor post-harvest handling also contributes to food contamination, with 91 million people in Africa falling ill of foodborne diseases each year. Mechanization along the entire value chain could contribute significantly to more efficient and inclusive food systems, especially boosting the production of crops and improving their post-harvest handling.

Providing sufficient nutritious and environmentally sustainable food for everyone will continue to be a major challenge in Africa. With 224 million people currently undernourished, the prevalence of chronic undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa has increased from 20.8% in 2015 to 22.7% in 2016. While conflicts and climate change are threatening harvests, and thereby availability and access to food in many countries, the demand for food is going up due to population growth, rapid urbanization, and a growing middle-class that is demanding more varied, processed and nutritious foods. Unless agricultural systems are rapidly transformed, the access to healthy food for all is not guaranteed.

In addition to the substantial share of undernourishment, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest share of food loss and waste worldwide with 36%, compared to 28%, 31% and 32% in South East Asia, Europe and North America respectively. To address this problem, the Sustainable Development Goals commit countries to halve food loss and waste by 2030. When done in the right way, a reduction in food losses could release some of the food import pressure, generate wealth and result in improved nutrition and food security.

Original Article: The Malabo Montpellier Panel