Theme: Postharvest Loss Reduction for Sustainable Food Systems.
This theme is aligned to the 2021 Food Systems agenda. The September 2021 Food Systems Summit will be preceded by a year-long global campaign to achieve Sustainable Development Goals. At the September Summit, the United Nation’s Secretary General, António Guterres will launch bold (new) actions to transform our food systems and deliver progress on the 17 SDGs. In his words, the Secretary General echoes the importance of food loss and waste reduction in the efforts to end hunger in sustainable food systems – “It is unacceptable that hunger is on the rise at a time when the world wastes more than 1 billion tonnes of food every year. It is time to change how we produce and consume, including to reduce greenhouse emissions. Transforming food systems is crucial for delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals. As a human family, a world free of hunger is our imperative”.
The congress theme, Postharvest Loss Reduction for Sustainable Food Systems, has been unpacked into six sub-themes to address specific focus areas in the food systems transformation agenda with the food loss and reduction lens.
- Technologies, tools and practices to reduce postharvest losses in food supply chains
Losses in the quantity or quality of food being produced, handled, transported, stored or processed can occur during each stage of the food supply chain with retailer, catering and consumer behaviours often resulting in further wastage of food. These losses occur for a myriad of different reasons, reflecting the huge diversity of food production and postharvest systems. These systems differ by commodity, location and intended use amongst other factors, and are shaped and transformed by complex interactions of various environmental, technical, economic, political, socio-cultural and demographic drivers. The scale of food loss and waste (FLW) differs depending on the commodity, location, type of food production and postharvest system. The loss and waste of food has economic, social and environmental impacts. These impacts vary depending on the extent, type and location of the food loss and waste (FLW).
Key development policies, including the African Union’s Malabo Declaration and Sustainable Development Goal 12.3, clearly recognise the importance of reducing FLW and include targets for FLW reduction. However, the effective management and reduction of FLW requires an accurate and context-specific understanding of the causes, extent and impact of FLW. This subtheme provides a space to share and discuss recent work and learning on tools for and findings of measurements of food loss and food waste occurring within or of relevance to African food systems – to determine what our current knowledge and evidence base and gaps are regards the extent, causes and impacts of FLW. We welcome abstracts for either oral or poster presentations of recent work on this subtheme to enable us to bring together a programme covering the extent, causes and impact of FLW in a range of different commodities, locations, and types of and stages within food systems across the African
continent and beyond.
- The Metrics in Food Loss and waste – data, emerging tools for FLW measurement
- Capacity building for postharvest management – training, outreach/extension
- Trade, business and economic transformation opportunities in postharvest solutions
- ACFTA: Facilitating Trade and Business Growth through Better Postharvest Management
- Financing Postharvest Loss Reduction Initiatives; Business Cases/Models in Postharvest Loss Reduction; Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Upscaling Appropriate Postharvest Technologies
- Agro-Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for Youth and Women engagement
- Private sector initiatives and public-private-partnerships (PPP) in postharvest loss reduction initiatives
- Enabling Policies, effective national/regional strategies, experience sharing
- Member states’ progress towards set targets for postharvest food loss reduction under the Malabo declaration 2014
Postharvest food loss and waste reduction is critical in a world where one in five people face hunger while approximately 1.3 Billion tons of food are lost and/or wasted annually. When food is lost or wasted, all the resources that were used to produce the food, including water, land, energy, labour and capital all go to waste. In addition, the disposal of food loss and waste in landfills, leads to greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change.
According to FAO-HLPE (2014), a sustainable food system is described as one that delivers food security and nutrition for all in such a way that the economic, social and environmental bases to generate food security and nutrition for the future generations is not compromised. Therefore, food loss and waste is a reflection of unsustainability of our foods systems.
There is need for a radical transformation in our food systems, from production to consumption, to sustainably feed the global population that is estimated to reach 10 billion by 2050. The transformation which must happen at the local, regional and global food systems is critical to ensure equitable access to high quality nutritious food with minimal negative impact on natural resources.In an attempt to cope with increasing demand for food, African governments have traditionally emphasized increasing food production while efforts to reduce food product losses during and after harvest (and improving downstream activities in agro-processing) have not been adequately addressed. Moreover, evidence suggests that it costs less to generate an increase in food availability by improving post-harvest management than by increasing on-farm production.
It is in recognition of these challenges and opportunities that the African Union Heads of State and Government included a call for reducing post-harvest losses in Africa by 50 percent by 2025 in the 2014 Malabo Declaration. At the global level under the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 12 on sustainable production and consumption, Target 12.3 calls for halving per capital global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reducing food losses along production and supply chains (including post-harvest losses) by 2030.
Reducing food lost or wasted means more food for all, less greenhouse gas emissions, less pressure on environment, and increased productivity and economic growth. It is for this reason that the recently launched United Nations International Day of Awareness of Food Loss and Waste which was first marked on 29th September 2020 adopted the theme‘Stop food loss and waste. For the people. For the planet’.
There is need for concerted efforts at local and global level to maximize utilization of food that is already produced to minimize postharvest food loss and waste. This requires the attention and action by all actors in the food supply chains, from producers and other practitioners/enablers in the food supply chain to consumers. Innovation, technologies, good practices, enabling policies and behavioral changes are key to reducing food loss and waste.
The recent African Union Biennial Review Report on implementation of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) adopted by the AU Heads of State in January 2020 reveals that on the commitment to end hunger in Africa by 2025, by accelerating agricultural growth, reduce post-harvest losses, increase agricultural productivity, and improve the nutritional status in Africa, overall, only one country (Uganda) is on-track to meet this commitment. Although poorly documented in many countries in Africa, efforts to reduce post-harvest losses could significantly increase food availability and agriculture businesses and trade.
In addition, the Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed the vulnerability and inefficiency of local and global food systems. Significant volumes of food have been lost/waste as the inefficient food distribution systems were disrupted. Therefore the efforts to reduce impact of COVID-19 should be accompanied by measures to minimize disruptions, reduction of food losses/waste, improve access to domestic, regional and global markets among others. For this to happen countries would need to pursue reforms on several fronts including recommitment to improving physical infrastructure and trade logistics and creating opportunities for market access.In the same context the intra-African agrifood market is expanding quickly and food demand is projected to triple by 2050. With the signing of the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA) there is need to take advantage of the fast-growing intra-African market opportunities. For this to happen African agriculture must undergo structural transformation that entails shifting from subsistence-oriented production systems towards more market-oriented food systems. Proper postharvest management including agro-processing is critical in the efforts towards market-oriented sustainable food systems.
Acknowledging the urgent need to shift the focus from increased production to better postharvest management, with strategic partnership from the Rockefeller Foundation, the University of Nairobi and a consortium of Universities and Research & Development Institutions and in conjunction with the World Food Preservation Center® LLC (WFPC) organized the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition (AAPHCE) which was held in Nairobi in 2017.Following recommendations of stakeholders at the 1stAAPHCE and subsequent regional workshops, the AAPHCE was institutionalized within the African Union structures during the 2nd AAPHCE which was co-hosted by the AUC and the University of Nairobi in 2019 at the AUC headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The purpose of institutionalization of the AAPHCE was to ensure the continuity and mainstreaming into existing continental programs on postharvest loss reduction. The AAPHCE convening has now been conceptualized as a biennial event that brings together diverse stakeholders including policy makers, private sector actors, development agencies, civil society, researchers, academics, farmers, processors to learn, share information, build networks and partnerships aimed at addressing the pertinent issue of postharvest loss reduction in the African context.
Subsequently, the AUC is organizing the 3rd All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition in partnership with diverse regional and global partners including research & academic institutions, development partners, non-governmental organizations, private sector actors among others.
The overall objective of this action by the AUC is to galvanize the efforts towards achieving the continental targets on postharvest loss reduction. This action is in line with the Malabo Declaration (2014) on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Livelihoods to end hunger by 2025. To end hunger, there is a commitment to:at least double agricultural productivity; Reduce Post-Harvest Losses at least by half by 2025; and Improve Nutrition.
- Raise awareness about food losses and waste as a problem contributing to unsustainable food systems.
- Demonstrate the importance of good postharvest management and food loss/waste reduction in line with the continental/global challenges and agendas such as sustainable development goals (SDGs); Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA); Sustainable food systems; Covid-19 Pandemic.
- Showcase effective policy interventions, strategies, technologies, practices, investment/business opportunities towards postharvest food loss/waste reduction.
- Monitor and review progress by AU Member states on postharvest loss reduction initiatives to achieve the set targets under the Malabo Declaration (2014).
- Build and strengthen linkages and partnerships (including private sector engagement) for resourcing food loss and waste reduction initiatives.
The 3rd AAPHCE which is scheduled for September 14 – 17, 2021 will have a four-dayprogramconsisting of plenary sessions and breakaway sessions for the various thematic areas. These interactive sessions will feature lead papers from leading subject matter experts; contributing research papers; panel discussions and open plenary discussions. Posters will be displayed throughout the 4 days of the congress. In addition, there will be a dedicated interactive poster session where presenters will be allocated time to ‘pitch’ in a plenary session about their research and development idea/findings. A key aspect of the AAPHCE is Exhibitions to showcase technologies, innovations and tools for postharvest food loss/waste reduction. Therefore, there will be exhibitions by companies, organizations, institutions and individuals which will run throughout the four-day congress period with dedicated space for business-to-business discussions.
Due to travel and meeting restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic, the congress will be a hybrid event with both physical and virtual platforms. This is to ensure maximum participation by participants from across Africa and beyond.
Congress participants will be drawn from a diversity of stakeholders across Africa and beyond who work (directly or indirectly) in the food sector. These include farmers, traders, researchers, academia, innovators, policy makers, development partners, government departments, private sector/investors, civil society, etc.
- Awareness created about food loss/waste and impact on sustainability of food systems.
- Technologies, tools, practices, strategies, enabling policies for postharvest food loss and waste reduction showcased and promoted for greater adoption.
- Progress by member countries towards set targets of halving postharvest losses by 2025 under the Malabo Declaration showcased and champions rewarded
- Linkages and partnerships established among the various stakeholders including technology developers and vendors, the end users of the technologies, policy makers, development agencies and investors.
- A communiqué (Call to Action) on Postharvest Loss Reduction for Sustainable Food Systems: what needs to be done, who should do it and by when.
- A policy brief on Postharvest Loss Reduction for Sustainable Food Systems: what needs to be done, who should do it and by when.
- Congress Book of Abstracts/Proceedings, Special Journal Issue