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As part of the World Economic Forum’s 2016 Annual Meeting, The Rockefeller Foundation announced the launch of YieldWise, a seven-year, USD 130 million initiative that will demonstrate how food loss and waste can be cut in half globally.
“The amount of food lost or wasted before it ever reaches a table is simply unacceptable, with devastating impacts on people, profit, and planet,” said Judith Rodin, president of The Rockefeller Foundation. “Yet, it’s a challenge that can be prevented with a blend of existing solutions, from technologies that help farmers keep more of what they grow to models for private sector engagement that ensure those crops will be bought, rather than left to rot. Through YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation will finish the business we started with the Green Revolution more than a half-century ago-to ensure more of the world’s people are fed and the planet’s precious resources are protected.”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), we grow enough food to feed all the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people on the planet, yet one-third is never eaten. Given the projected 2 billion increase in the global population by 2050, the need to minimize loss, not just maximize production, is critical.
To do this, through YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation will engage private, nonprofit, and government actors across the food supply system. With large multinational companies like The Coca-Cola Company and Dangote as key collaborators, the initiative will focus on linking small and big businesses that can mutually benefit from diversified sources for products and enhanced markets. At the same time, the Foundation will make targeted investments toward dramatically reducing food waste generated by retail outfits and consumers across the U.S. and Europe.
“We look forward to working with The Rockefeller Foundation to make the food supply chain stronger, more efficient and more sustainable in Africa and beyond. This effort has vast potential to benefit small farmers, local communities as well as consumers, and we’re excited to have the chance to advance the cause of sustainable agriculture while helping to improve the lives of people near and far,” said Muhtar Kent, Chairman & Chief Executive Officer of The Coca-Cola Company
YieldWise’s immediate focus will be in Kenya, Nigeria, and Tanzania, where up to half of some crops are lost to inefficient harvesting, storage, processing, and time to market. The Rockefeller Foundation will focus on streamlining the supply chain from farm to market, putting proven technologies-many of them simple-in the hands of smallholder farmers to increase yield and create new paths to prosperity.
“In the global conversation on food waste, we often overlook losses between harvest and retail. On 470 million smallholder farms across Africa, lack of access to training and technology negatively impacts harvests and farmer livelihoods. When crops and food exports don’t make it to market, the economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations suffer as well,” said Mamadou Biteye, managing director of The Rockefeller Foundation in Africa. “YieldWise is the first global solution to food loss and waste that works across the entire food system: from farm to store to table and beyond.”
YieldWise will focus on behavior change, from how smallholder farmers grow and store their crops to how companies account for food loss and waste across their supply chains. It will help the economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations, which currently suffer when crops and food exports don’t make it to market. Beyond impacts on business and trade, it will also help to relieve the 25 percent of freshwater and 20 percent of farmland that is currently wasted on the production of unconsumed food. Ultimately, YieldWise’s goal is an efficient, productive global food system with minimal loss.