Food Loss and Waste

Speakers:  Rafael Flor, Rockefeller Foundation, Allan Ngakonda, RUDI

How do you get actors in the food system to actively reduce food loss & waste?

The YieldWise program of the Rockefeller Foundation gave key context to the size of food loss& waste. Baseline measurements in the tomato sector in Nigeria, mango in Kenya and maize in Tanzania point to major crop losses occurring on-farm as a result of disease and pests and poor harvesting and storage processes. Loss in the agrologistics beyond the farm are another key cause of food loss & waste. Experiences in the Patient Procurement Platform in Tanzania backed this up. Both programs focus on a combination of reducing FLW by improving access to appropriate technologies throughout the chain, access to finance to buy technologies, training to see the need and ensure proper application, and measurement of losses.

Why bother doing anything about this issue? Figures on food loss have no value as such, it’s not clear for different players in the value chain what they can gain in reducing loss. Making the opportunity clear requires a couple of additional steps:

  • Quantify the loss in a consistent manner.
  • Translate losses into meaningful terms for different players.
    • Build business case where benefits/value of reducing waste is made explicit for specific technologies and for different players, such as farmers, government, traders.
    • Build a story that reducing crop loss is consistent with processes they already have (increasing income, climate resilience, higher productivity, food security)
  • Clarify the value proposition in the chain (social/economic/environment value)

It is important to identify which solution makes more sense at which stage of the value chain per crop?

Experience so far points to availability and affordability of technology at the farm level as an important enabler for less food loss/waste.

Barriers differ per crop, those identified include:

  • Lack of awareness of available technologies, in some case affordability
  • No market incentive for farmers to adopt technologies
  • Insufficient storage at communal collective level (grain)
  • Lack of capacity on post-harvest management (grain)
  • The buyer is too far from value chain and not willing to (co-)invest
  • Lack of infrastructure (roads/electricity)

The Tanzanian government is actively thinking about village-level storage as a key strategy. This implies:

  • Aggregating in the village, which builds economy of scale and negotiation power with buyers
  • Figuring out the governance aspect of cooperatives: how can we strengthen farmer based organizations?
  • Who is liable for an aggregation center? Are there possibilities to create joint ventures?

Suggestions for future priorities includes:

  • Specifying the business proposition for the farmer around food waste
  • Identifying process flow for value chains, including risks – timelines
  • Align crop loss with other areas of attention so that it doesn’t become another separate area of attention
  • Working on those who are influential in getting new practices to be adopted at scale.

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