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Saving Food, Saving Lives

African farmers harvesting crops.
African farmers harvesting crops.

Reducing post harvest loss needs to be part of the solution.

By the year 2050, the world’s population is expected to reach 9 billion. By then, as diets change, demand for food will be at least 60 percent greater than in 2012.

Saving Food, Saving Lives
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Advances in crop efficiency and production will help meet the rising demand for food but the world faces this challenge with limited natural resources such as water, energy, arable land and pressures from climate variability. Reducing post harvest loss needs to be part of the solution.

According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, roughly one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste – that is 1.3 billion tons of food every year. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, an estimated $4 billion worth of grain is lost every year - more than the total value of food aid sent to the region over the last decade.

In many developing countries, food loss takes place just after crop harvest, between the field and the market. We call this “post harvest loss” and there are many different factors that cause it. Three of the most prominent are poor transportation infrastructure, lack of storage and processing equipment, and limited access to credit.

Despite the enormous challenges that post harvest loss presents, governments, the private sector, and civil society are all working together to find solutions.

Feed the Future is the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries in developing their agriculture sector to spur economic growth that increases incomes and reduces hunger, poverty, and undernutrition.

Through Feed the Future, the U.S. government has developed public-private partnerships to reduce postharvest loss by improving management of stored foods through better technology and processing techniques, supporting basic market infrastructure, and introducing risk management tools such as crop insurance.

Increasing productivity, building and maintaining infrastructure and saving more food will help improve food security for hundreds of millions of people around the world, raise the incomes of millions of smallholder farmers and help preserve the world’s limited resources.