Knowledge for a sustainable world

Ruth Leavett, Rick Hodges

In early June, World Bank and FAO hosted a sub-regional workshop in Ghana on the advantages of reducing postharvest losses, for policy makers and technical specialist. This included the launch of the World Bank's new report 'Missing Food: the case of postharvest grain losses in Sub-Saharan Africa'. This was prepared from an initial document drafted by NRI staff Rick Hodges, Ben Bennett, Tanya Stathers and Paul Mwebase.

African farmers are constrained by lack of resources and one approach to alleviating the problem is to reduce the amount of food lost after harvest. Reducing postharvest losses offers a means of increasing food supply without any further increase in the use of vital resources such as land, labour, water and agricultural inputs. But postharvest loss reduction goes further than this, it also addresses losses in opportunity. Currently, many producers cannot access markets or are currently confined to lower value market chains through lack of product quality, market information or business skills. Reduction in losses will both reduce the amount of food lost but also improve the livelihoods of producers since they will be better able to access markets and operate in higher value and more efficient market chains. More lucrative markets offer the incentives to producers to adopt improved approaches and technologies that will make loss reduction a reality. This is also good news for the consumer because food supplies will be more stable and of better quality. NRI, with its capacity to blend natural and social science skills, will continue to support the planning and implementation of postharvest loss reduction projects that deliver real development impact.