Poor handling contributes to food loss: FAO

Business Reporter
More than a quarter of food produced by farmers in sub-Saharan Africa is lost due to poor methods of post harvest handling.

According to Food and Agriculture Organisation 40 percent is lost in cereals, 40-50 percent in root crops, 27 percent in fruit and vegetables and 33 percent in oilseeds, meet, milk and fish. FAO said reduction of food losses and related issues of value addition and marketing activities for the crops are consistent with emerging consensus among African leaders that investment in agriculture should also address post-production sector.

There also has been growing consensus for investment in complementary areas of agribusiness and agro-industry, whose potential as engines of economic growth is widely accepted.

To that end, Zimbabwe will host a three-day meeting over the next three days aimed at developing a strategy for reduction of food losses among small holder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Zimbabwe is hosting an important workshop to develop a strategy to reduce food losses among smallholder farmers on the continent. This workshop brings together UN agencies, governments as well as experts on the subject,” said FAO.

Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development Minister Dr Joseph Made will join several high profile delegates and experts in food loss reduction to explore a strategy that African countries should adopt to reduce food losses.

Other high profile delegates to the food loss reduction strategy development workshop include regional director, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, Reto Wieser, professor Komla Bissi from the African Union and Mr Robert Delve from the International Fund for Agriculture Development.

FAO said the last decade has seen rapid growth in many developing countries together with a promising reduction of poverty levels.

However, FAO also noted that these positive developments have been hampered by a number of recent events, principally the soaring food prices crisis and the global economic recession.

Projections by FAO and others indicate that global food demand could increase by 40 percent in the next three decades. Thus efforts to sustainably increase food production are essential, but will not be sufficient to cope with increasing food demand.

Concerted efforts are needed to reduce food losses and waste during and after harvest and subsequent downstream activities.

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