NRI has been working to reduce losses and waste after harvest since the 1970s food crisis and this experience has endowed its postharvest teams with significant technical insight and capability. However, declining food prices in the 1990s diverted attention from this important topic. Since the new food crisis of 2006, NRI has made significant contributions to the loss reduction debate including the World Bank's report 'Missing Food', the UK's Foresight Review of Food and Farming Futures, and the recent development of the African Postharvest Losses Information System (APHLIS), a thematic network of local postharvest experts that provides loss data on cereal grains to drive agricultural policy making, cereal supply estimation and loss reduction programmes in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Centre's contribution to addressing the challenge of loss reduction?
The goal of the Centre is to sustain the world's food supply, reduce our carbon foot print and make our world greener using technologies/strategies to reduce losses and waste of both durable and perishable food commodities. Actions within the food supply chain both locally and internationally will increase food availability and provide consumers with safer and better quality food.
- Quantification of losses and waste within specific value chains based on rigorous loss assessment methodologies
- Identification of opportunities for reducing losses and waste in specific value chains based on the incentives that can accrue from the adoption of improved approaches
- Implementation of culturally and socially appropriate loss and waste reduction strategies accompanied by sound monitoring and evaluation based on modern loss assessment approaches
The Centre's approach is based on the following theory of change:
- To quantify losses and waste and identify opportunities for reducing them
- To promote the production of safer and better quality food using processes that reduce the amount of loss and waste
- Development of improved methods for the estimation of postharvest losses and waste for both durable and perishable food commodities, including a better understanding of associated nutritional losses and food safety issues, and promoting the use of these assessment methods
- Assessment of value chains to identify opportunities to adopt technologies and approaches that will provide incentives to reduce losses and waste and improve food safety and nutritional value
- Assistance in development of relevant agricultural policy especially the creation of formal markets that promote grading systems, warehouse receipts, and farmer credit, and help with the implementation of these
- Assistance in the development of capacities to manage losses, especially training in systems related to food safety and food quality, which may be practical on the job training or leading to formal qualifications (MSc or PhD)
- Provision of expertise for the development and extension of appropriate postharvest technologies for durable and perishable food commodities