Year End Message

By: Dr. Dirk E. Maier

Iowa State University 22 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.

Our collaborative efforts have purposefully spread our food system expertise across the globe and developed a robust agenda focused on enhancing food security and delivery of nutritious foods. From research on black soldier fly larva converting food waste as a lower cost, locally produced protein source for smallholder poultry producers in Honduras to collaborative efforts on cassava production, preservation and processing in Ghana and Brazil, the scale-up and diversity of our research is impressive. As a member-driven, collaborative effort we have made impactful progress engaging graduate students and stakeholders.

Deliverables include the release of a new food loss and waste protocol that is being piloted by multiple members and collaborators on key food value chains. Ultimately this protocol will allow for a rapid, low cost assessment of value chain food loss and waste, and be coupled with modules to assess potential interventions to reduce loss and waste, and greenhouse gas emissions. This novel approach is also supported by a user group that will ensure the protocol evolves based upon pilot phase feedback.

Deliverables also include newly developed courses and trainings, a cold-storage demonstration and training center, and funding of graduate student research and projects at every institution. Consortium members are engaged in developing and mentoring the next generation of food system entrepreneurs and research leaders. The new year will see the release of a new Consortium course for graduate students, a randomized control trial experiment on entrepreneurship, and the graduation of our first group of M.S. and Ph.D. students.

In this festive time of year, we are taking stock and looking forward to 2021. The Consortium’s future is bright and we are proud of the accomplishments that have been achieved over the past year. Most importantly, we are thankful that our members, collaborators, advisors and funders have been able to stay safe and healthy, and remain committed to our mission.

Wishing all of you Happy Holidays and great start to the New Year,

Dr. Dirk E. Maier, Consortium Director