United Nation’s International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste

By Dirk E. Maier, Jane Lukhachi Ambuko, Jesus Orozco and Joseph O. Akowuah

27 September 2022

The 11th Global Food Security Index shows a deterioration in the global food environment for the third year due to its vulnerability to shocks. Affordability of nutritious food and its safety and quality decreased, while inequity among countries increased. Loss and waste of nutritious food includes deterioration in quality (and safety) as well as loss in quantity. Food Loos and Waste (FLW) is a global problem that negatively impacts the bottom line of businesses and farmers, wastes limited resources, and damages the environment. More than 40% of fruits and vegetables in lower income countries generally spoil before they can be consumed. These goods include mangoes, avocadoes, pineapples, tomatoes, and bananas, many of which are in high demand and imported by medium and higher income countries especially European nations which are most food secure. FLW causes farmers to use precious resources (seed, soil, water, fertilizer) to produce nutritious food that either never makes it to market, spoils along the supply chain, or is otherwise thrown out by wholesalers, retailers and consumers due to short shelf-life or quality loss issues, creating a significant drain on environmental resources. Continue reading.

A Decision Framework for Post-Harvest Loss Reduction

By Steve Sonka and Micah Pope

11 October 2021

In a world where more than 700 million people suffer from food insecurity and caloric deficiency, excessive post-harvest loss (PHL) is a missed opportunity to use food already available to reduce hunger, while increasing food quality/safety, nutrition, and market opportunities. While the magnitude of loss today is concerning, it is even more distressing that excessive PHL and its associated negative impacts are NOT new topics of global interest. In 1975, then US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, detailed the need for global efforts to reduce PHL at a United Nations conference on food security. Following his exhortation, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution calling for at least a 50 percent reduction within ten years.   However, we still struggle to mitigate PHL of both cereals and perishables. Continue reading.

During the summer of 2021, George Obeng-Akrofi, a Ph.D. student in Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering and a member of the EWB-ISU chapter at Iowa State University (ISU), was hosted by KNUST to conduct his research and monitor EWB-ISU’s projects in the Ullo Traditional Area (UTA). George, a graduate student of Dr. Dirk Maier, is supported through the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction, which is a multi-disciplinary and -institutional organization led by ISU. For his three-month stay in Ghana, he conducted a qualitative survey interviewing the Shea women in UTA. This research was performed to establish baseline data for the joint EWB-ISU and EWB-KNUST Ullo Shea Project, for which he serves as the Real Engineer in Charge (REiC). While in Ullo, George also organized a “train the trainer” workshop on the post-harvest management of food grains and Shea nuts. Continue reading.

By: Axmann H., Soethoudt H., Castelein B., Kok M., & Broeze J.

Wageningen University and Research1 September 2021

Nigeria is Africa’s largest producer of rice. Rice plays a pivotal role for Nigeria’s food security. Nevertheless, the country still depends heavily on rice importations. Production methods are traditional with a low-level of mechanization and high inefficiencies. It was measured that as much as ~35% of the harvested rice is lost from harvest at smallholder rice farms till the gates of the collection centres. Losses represent a climate threat. Food loss and waste reduction has been identified as the most impactful solution to reduce the excess of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Continue reading...

By: Kyle Poorman

Iowa State University05 April 2021

We are in the midst of the 1st offering of our Consortium graduate course on the practical aspects of post-harvest loss and waste management. We have 35 individuals on 4 continents taking the course with graduate students and young professionals from Brazil, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Democratic Republic of Congo, Philippines, Guatemala, Bangladesh, and the USA. The Volcani Institute in Israel is the course development lead and we were able to attract 22 amazingly talented experts to contribute course content for this online offering.

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By: Dr. Dirk E. Maier

Iowa State University22 December 2020

In this exceptional year, where the COVID-19 pandemic has upended so much, the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction adapted to quickly changing conditions and continued making great strides. The care and resourcefulness of Consortium members and collaborators made this a successful year in spite of the challenges we all faced. Just over a year ago, the Consortium started its work in earnest with our kick-off meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Today, we have over 30 on-going projects that were recently reviewed by our advisory council members who confirmed that we are delivering on the Consortium’s core goals.

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By: Kyle Poorman

Iowa State University 22 December 2020

Shea nut production by rural women is the focus of a pioneering project between the Ullo Traditional Area (UTA) in the Upper West Region of Ghana and Consortium member institutions Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and Iowa State University (ISU). This is an integrated research and development project revolving around the preservation, value-added processing, and fair trade marketing of shea nuts and butter.

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By: Joseph Akowuah

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST)

In March 2020, Ghana recorded the first two cases of COVID-19 and it continued to spread throughout the country as the number of confirmed cases rapidly increased from 2 to 152 and 5 deaths in two weeks. This brought fear and panic among individuals and major activities within the country ceased. As part of government directives to control the rapid spread of the novel disease, government imposed a three-week lockdown and indefinite closure of boarders to restrict movement within the country and also between other countries. This became a big blow for millions of businesses including those in the agriculture sector particularly our men and women involved in the horticultural farming business.

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Kyle Poorman

Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste ReductionIowa State University

The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers (ASABE) announced that it is undertaking a standard setting process for the testing and performance of hermetic grain-storage bags. Dr. Dirk E. Maier and his Ph.D. student Ma. Cristine Concepcion D. Ignacio initiated the standard setting process through actions undertaken with ASABE and their extensive hermetic storage research conducted at Iowa State University is underpinning the standard. Completion and adoption of the standard is a key objective for the Consortium for Innovation for Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction.

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By: Amos Kioko

The Rockefeller Foundation Consultant

The YieldWise investments in Kenyan Zero Loss Centres, also typically known as Smallholder Aggregation Centres, achieved significant gains for farmer income and was able to reduce post-harvest losses of mangoes. Data collected shows that a ton of fresh mangoes aggregated at a Kenyan Zero Loss Centre can fetch $150 to $250 per ton while at the farm gate price, a ton of fresh mangoes goes for less than $100. These centres provide a compelling case for further investment in post-harvest loss reducing innovations.

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Kyle Poorman

Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste ReductionIowa State University

In Uganda, Iowa State University is implementing a microfinancing model for the deployment of plastic silos that hermetically seal stored grain along with tarps for sun drying and grain handling. This program, initiated by the Center for Sustainable Rural Livelihoods (CSRL) through its Iowa State University Uganda Program, is overseen by a Consortium co-principle investigator. The aim is to foster the adoption of post-harvest technologies that will safeguard stored grain by reducing loss from mold, insects and rodents. Smallholder farmers benefit by being able to safely store their grain so they can sell it when prices rise a few months after harvest.

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We are pleased to announce the Consortium’s first online course offering. Development of the graduate-level course, “Practical Aspects in Post-Harvest Loss and Waste Management,” is led by Professor Samir Droby and Dr. Amnon Lichter (Volcani Center, Israel) with contributions of content and lectures from across the Consortium and other esteemed global experts. The course is slated to be available in August 2020, and a cohort of students from Consortium institutions will participate in the course during the fall semester (USA Collegiate Calendar).

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University of Maryland reasearch in the Kenyan mango value chain

Kyle Poorman

Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction

In December 2019, a team from the University of Maryland returned to Kenya for a second round of 50 intensive, qualitative interviews. Affiliates of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise & Markets, the team focused on analyzing the impact of the Rockefeller Foundation’s YieldWise Initiative in the Kenyan mango value chain. This round of interviews was informed by an earlier trip in 2019 that yielded a set of lessons learned that was subsequently published as a research blog on the Consortium website. This portion of the study aimed to dig deeper into those lessons and to come to a better understanding about the uptake of YieldWise interventions and even the motivations and behaviors behind choices to adopt and continue to deploy the interventions.

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Case Study on Pomegranate fruit Under Global Supply Chain Conditions

Alex Tsige

Stellenbosch University - SARChI Postharvest Technology Research Group

Aiming at innovative and future ventilated packaging solutions, SARChI Postharvest Technology has developed a new ventilated carton design to help improve the overall performance of packaging in the pomegranate industry.

The project developed a virtual testing method to save the time and cost of new packaging box design using computer models (Fig. 1 and 2). Quantitative and visual data of the airflow, cooling rate, temperature, moisture distributions and mechanical integrity of the package along the cold chain were simulated. Alternative design ideas were characterized and compared, virtually. The approach enables explorative out-of-the-box thinking.

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Innovations in Cassava Processing

Mozambique Case Study

Bert Dijkink and Jan Broeze

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Cassava provides food security in many sub-Sahara African countries, as the crop grows year-round and can be harvested at times when other crops are not available. Cassava is traditional processed to gari (fermented cassava flour) at the farm for home consumption. Besides gari, cassava can also be processed to cassava cake or cassava flour, which can be used in food processing, like for un-malted grain in beer brewing, replacing maize or rice. Since cassava processing is labor-intensive, the processing can be shifted from the farm to the village and to large factories. However, cassava suffers from a large problem with post-harvest physiological deterioration (PPD) which starts 24h-48h after harvest (Reilly, 2003). This together with the wide scattering of smallholder farmers contributes to difficult sourcing and challenging logistics for industrialization.

To overcome these challenges Dadtco Philafrica (, Dadtco, 2017) developed a mobile cassava flour factory to process fresh cassava on-farm or nearby, instead of transporting the watery, perishable cassava roots over long distances to a central factory.

In this study the effect of different sizes of industrialization of the cassava processing in Mozambique is evaluated for post-harvest losses (PHL) and Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.

Click here to continue reading the cassava processing blog.

Jan Broeze

Wageningen Food & Biobased Research CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)

Climate impact of food is largely determined by food choices. In the scientific domain the knowledge base of climate impact of food production is still rapidly growing. Based on those insights recommendations for sustainable diets are proposed by e.g. the EAT–Lancet Commission (Willett et al., 2019). For estimating climate impacts of food products use can be made of greenhouse gas (GHG) emission factors for crops, see e.g. Clune et al. (2017) and literature cited by them. However, total GHG emissions associated to a food product should also address the post-harvest emissions and effects of food loss and waste. The Agro-Chain Greenhouse gas Emissions (ACGE) calculator (Broeze et al., 2019) can be helpful for estimating total GHG emissions associated to food that we consume.

This paper explains an approach for estimating GHG emissions associated to a menu as well as to the wasted food. We illustrate this on a practical experiment during the 5th Global Science Conference on Climate-Smart Agriculture, which was held 8-10 October 2019 on Bali, Indonesia.

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Dr. Rajshree Agarwal

Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at the University of Maryland Director of the Ed Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets
This blog is published on the Forbes website and it retains all rights.

Chikoos arrive in many sizes at farmers auctions in Western India, and the fruit must be separated by grade after the bidding ends. My cousin invited me to watch the process recently, and I was struck by what I saw.

Sorting machines, donated by aid organizations to boost local agriculture, sat idle while women did the job by hand.

The technology might have worked well in a different setting, like the automated tomato facility I visited a few years ago in California. But the machines seemed to provide no use in this little village.

Another gadget, however, was working well. As I watched the sorting continue, one worker reached for her state-of-the-art smartphone. Such devices are now nearly ubiquitous in India, often coming with affordable 4G networks suitable for livestreaming cricket matches and running other apps.

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Dr. Shweta Chopra

Iowa State University Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction

Modern agriculture practices have increased the yield of food production; however, surplus yields often do not reach the people who are in need, due to the lack of effective supply chains and logistics. As a result, it leads to food insecurity in certain geographical areas and food loss and waste in others. A supply chain is a chain of individual stakeholders connected for the purpose of producing and distributing a product. Supply chains are incredibly complex, spanning multiple geographies and processes, which can create silos and fragmentation. In recent years, due to digitalization, stakeholders can connect with each other to create an effective supply chain.

In agriculture supply chains, digitalization provides an opportunity to link stakeholders, such as farmers, processers, and distributors, in one platform, which provides a means to (i) effectively monitor agriculture production, (ii) make informed decisions regarding the processing, storage, and distribution of agricultural products, (iii) help with tracking and tracing the movement of food which is essential at the time of a food safety recall, and (iv) track consumption patterns in different geographical regions.

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By: Dirk Maier, Steve Sonka, Toine Timmerman, Cassie Welch

Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering, Iowa State University, USAEd Snider Center for Enterprise and Markets, University of Maryland, USA; Wageningen Food and Biobased Research, Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands

Food loss and waste is a global problem that negatively impacts the bottom line of businesses and farmers, wastes limited resources, and damages the environment. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), The Rockefeller Foundation, Iowa State University, University of Maryland, Wageningen University and Research, Volcani Center, Zamorano University, Stellenbosch University, Univeristy of São Paulo, University of Nairobi, and Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology have partnered to establish the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction.

Through this consortium, food loss and waste thought leaders and experts from across the globe will work in tandem with industry and nonprofit organizations to address social, economic and environmental impacts from food loss and waste. Feeding a growing global population demands innovation at all levels — from planting to processing to consumption. This consortium will help farmers across the globe use technology to continue using resources effectively and efficiently. Optimizing food production and preservation practices is critical for ensuring that farmers are profitable, food is plentiful and accessible, and the environment is protected.

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