The views of NRI staff on the current situation and opportunities for postharvest loss reduction are presented by commodity group, accessible from the menu on the left.  For each commodity group, a member of NRI staff has recorded a video to present their views. 

    M2 Hodges  M5 Tomlins    M4 Rees  M3 Linton  M1 bennett

 

 

Rick Hodges 

Grains

 

Keith Tomlins

Roots and tubers

 

 

Debbie Rees

Fruit and veg

 

John Linton 

Fish

 

Ben Bennett 

Livestock

 

How did we get to where we are now?

During the last global food crisis price spike in the 1970s, food prices world-wide rose as much as four-fold. To improve food availability the international community responded by funding the Green Revolution, which in South and South East Asia created higher grain yields. The community also supported scientific and systematic approaches to postharvest loss assessment and reduction which give increased food availability without requiring additional land, water, labour and agricultural inputs for additional production, i.e. it offers more efficient use of resources. However, following the 1970s food price hike, food prices began to fall in real terms and continued to do so well into the 2000s. This trend undermined loss reduction efforts since the financial returns gradually became less favourable. The Prevention of Food Losses programme implemented by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) came to an end in the late 1990s and the Global Postharvest Forum (PhAction), which had its origins in loss reduction in Sub-Saharan Africa, fell into abeyance in the early 2000s. Indeed globally, agriculture for development fell from favour.

But things changed again in 2006/2007 with a sharp increase in global food prices, although lower than last time (only about double). This occurred at a time of poor harvests but unlike the previous hike it happened when food grain was being diverted to biofuels and when there was a distinct oil price increase (oil prices have a strong influence on the price of synthetic fertiliser a crucial element of the farming systems promoted in the Green Revolution). The food price increase was associated with rioting in 14 African countries reflecting the strong link between food prices and food consumption. The fact that there appeared to be no prospect of a return to the previous low prices for either food or energy, at least in the medium term, created an imperative for increasing food availability through productivity gains and the reduction of losses and waste were identified as key responses to concerns about global food availability. Better postharvest management and the associated loss reduction will also help to build resilience against current and future climate-related shocks, and reduce the need for compensatory agricultural extensification, land use change and damage to environmental services, including carbon sequestration.