Food loss and waste in Sub-Saharan Africa
This article (PDF) in the Food Policy Journal reviews the current state of the literature on post-harvest losses (PHL) mitigation. Four objectives to reduce PHL levels are: improved food security, food safety, profitability and reduced unnecessary resource use. There is a lack of consensus on the estimated magnitude of losses and there has been no serious assessment of what ‘‘optimal” PHL levels may be for meeting their underlying objectives. Current estimates suggests that most PHL in sub-Saharan Africa occur on-farm. As a result, most interventions aimed at reducing PHL have also been directed on-farm, almost entirely around hermetic storage. There is a swell of literature about these products and their efficacy in reducing PHL, but there are few other evaluations of innovations related to on- or beyond-farm technologies. Therefore, there may be good reason to consider off-farm interventions that deliver PHL reduction alongside other more broad-based benefits. While other strategies exist, four are highlighted in the review: 1) infrastructure improvements, 2) warehouse receipt systems, 3) rural financial market development, and 4) more efficient markets and value chains. With so many important gaps in current knowledge, more emphasis needs to be placed on coordinated learning, especially assessment of whether PHL remediation investments are relatively cost-effective in advancing the four core objectives. A limited set of non-PHL approaches are offered to tackle these same goals.