One of the biggest challenges facing society today is the widespread prevalence of hunger and food insecurity. Expanding consumption as well as volatility in global food prices in the past few years has fuelled concerns about global food and nutrition security. The above point is one of the important reasons why hunger occurs, but another key reason is Post-Harvest Loss (PHL).
A two day high-level forum on support for regional capacity building to reduce post-harvest losses was organized jointly by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on 17th and 18th October at Desalegn Hotel. The objective of the forum was to discuss areas in which to enhance regional capacity building to reduce post-harvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“The World Bank and FAO issued report, Missing Food: The Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa, in 2011 reminds us that the value of post-harvest grain loss in sub-Saharan Africa is about 4 billion USD a year which could meet the annual food requirements of about 48 million people,” said Castro Camarada, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for East Africa.
It was stated at the forum that when the staggering percentage of grain loss is factored in with loss in nutritional value, as well as the possible adverse effects on the health of populations consuming poor quality products; the need for intervention to reduce post-harvest losses becomes even more imperative, and addressing waste across the entire food chain must be a critical pillar of future national food strategies.
In 2006 at the AU Food Security Summit, AU heads of states and governments made commitments to introduce measures that would halve post-harvest losses within three years, reducing them to 10 percent by 2015.
It was stated that although there was increasing awareness and knowledge among governments in sub-Saharan Africa about the problem of post-harvest loss and the positive effects that reduced losses can have in improving economic growth and food security in the region, the capacity of African governments and other stakeholders to address and meet challenges remains very limited.
“With the dramatic changes over the last two decades in global agri-food systems in general and in Africa particularly, with raising pre-capita incomes, changing technology, trade liberalization and rapid urbanization, FAO in collaboration with its partners is taking a new look at the issue of post-harvest food losses and re-aligning its intervention policies to focus on systematic interventions that improve efficiency rather than the disjointed, single-point interventions of the past,” stated Castro
Some of the key challenges that were mentioned towards increasing agricultural productivity in Africa include under-capitalization of agriculture and research, inadequate use of mechanization and agrochemicals, inadequate investments in irrigation,