Reducing food loss

What interventions can reduce crop losses at, and after, harvesting and how can they be implemented?

Photo: Michael Foley (cropped, edited for color, contrast)

Postharvest loss is not just about losing valuable crops during and after their harvesting, but wasting the precious and finite resources—land, labor, water, fertilizer, and energy—that went into their growth. It happens in a myriad of different ways, from poor handling to spillage during transport, or spoilage due to poor storage. And these food losses are often happening in the midst of local hunger and poverty.

For farmers, reduced losses mean greater productivity and increased food security, with higher quality produce resulting in more bargaining power with buyers. For governments, fewer losses would mean improved environmental and economic performance. For consumers, fewer losses would mean more and cheaper food. Tackling postharvest loss is a critical element in achieving zero hunger.

And yet despite widespread agreement among decision-makers about the importance of solving this problem, there has been little coordinated research and evaluation on how, exactly, to do this—especially around the training and finance needed to get technological solutions into widespread use.

The goal of this evidence synthesis is to identify the range of field-tested interventions available to tackle postharvest losses across the food system, and then assess whether these interventions are effective and to what degree.

Research team

Tanya Stathers

Tanya Stathers

Lead author, Associate Professor, Natural Resources Institute, University of Greenwich

Jessica Ault

Jessica Ault

Metadata librarian, Food Safety and Research Information Office, National Agricultural Library

Alicia English

Alicia English

Applied economist and data scientist, UN FAO

Deirdre Holcroft

Deirdre Holcroft

Founder, Holcroft Postharvest Consulting

Lisa Kitanoja

Lisa Kitanoja

Founder, President, The Postharvest Education Foundation

Megan Kocher

Megan Kocher

Science Librarian, University of Minnesota

Brighton Mvumi

Brighton Mvumi

Lecturer and researcher, University of Zimbabwe

Oluwatoba James Omotilewa

Oluwatoba James Omotilewa

Economist, World Bank

Maximo Torero

Maximo Torero

Assistant Director General, Economic and Social Development Department, UN Food and Agriculture Organization

Research protocol

 

The full details of the the protocol for this evidence synthesis are available on the OSF open platform run by the Center for Open Science.

 

This is one of eight evidence syntheses selected by Ceres2030 to help decision-makers choose the best interventions to achieve the UN's Sustainability Development Goal of "Zero Hunger" by 2030 (SDG 2).