The post-harvest sector has the potential to contribute much more than it does to the livelihoods of poor people, but development efforts in the past have always been more focused on agricultural production. A new initiative promises to change this. The Global Post-harvest Forum (PhAction), currently chaired by NRI's director Guy Poulter, together with FAO and GFAR have merged their own initiatives to develop a Strategic Plan for a 'Global Post-harvest Systems Initiative for the 21st Century: Linking Farmers to Markets.'
The Strategic Plan offers:
- An innovative platform for a supply-chain approach to post-harvest development. This includes assistance with business development for private/public partnerships and particularly for poor entrepreneurs. However, supply chains can only function if all linkages are effective: the Strategic Plan allows for wide ranging interventions that can meet the needs of diverse situations in contrasting regions around the globe;
- A market-oriented approach to addressing post-harvest and production problems; and
- Full participation of stakeholders at every stage in the development and implementation of the Initiative.
In October 2003, the Strategic Plan was further developed and endorsed at a three-day workshop hosted by FAO in Rome, where over 80 stakeholders, many from developing countries, debated the relevance of the Plan on a regional basis. Once the Plan has been revised on the basis of comments and suggestions made by the workshop participants, it will be taken forward by an Interim Co-ordination Committee and may become one of GFAR's Global Partnership Programmes. The Committee will comprise major stakeholders, including five regional representatives, PhAction, FAO, GFAR, and interested donor organizations.
On his return to NRI from the subsequent CGIAR annual meeting in Nairobi, Guy Poulter reported "I presented the Strategic Plan proposal at the CGIAR meeting, where it was well received. The possibility of funding was discussed with several potential donors, and we are hopeful that seed-funding will be forthcoming to implement the Initiative."