Nairobi, March 29th 2017 – Over 600 delegates have converged in Nairobi today to launch the first ever All Africa Post-Harvest Congress. The three-day event, whose theme is “Reducing Food Losses and Waste: Sustainable Solutions for Africa”, seeks to find solutions to reducing post-harvest food loss in Africa.
According to the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), one-third of the world’s available food never makes it from farm to table. That’s enough food to feed all of the world’s 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people, a practice that is unsustainable given that 2 billion more people are expected to live on the planet by 2050.
In developing countries, including the African continent, 40% of losses occur before the food even hits the market. It is lost during and immediately following harvest, as well as in processing and transport. About 30 percent of the grains produced and close to 90 percent of fruits and vegetables are lost before they reach the consumers owing to inadequate post-harvest management, lack of structured markets, inadequate storage in households and on farms, and limited processing capacity.
Food loss has negative impacts far beyond food insecurity- it is an urgent global crisis affecting all– people, planet, and profits.
“We are honored to host this inaugural event, the first of its kind to be held in Africa. The Congress is a platform for delegates to learn, share information and build strategic partnerships with the overall objective of identifying effective interventions to reduce food loss on the continent,” said Nairobi University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi. “This historic gathering is very timely because like many other countries in Africa, Kenya continues to experience post-harvest loss as a result of poor post-harvest management practices.”
The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Malabo Declaration (2014) have set a target of halving postharvest losses by 2030 and 2025 respectively. This Forum, therefore, provides an opportunity for stakeholders from African Union Commission member countries to respond to the commitments and make them actionable. It will further seek to define actionable solutions to reverse the current trend where an estimated 30 percent or 1.3 billion metric tons of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chains, and result in at least 15% lost income for over 470 million farmers and other actors across the agriculture value chain.
“Africa has the potential to not only feed itself, even with a growing population, but to become a net exporter of food – rather than an importer as it is now, with a history of drought across the continent that affects food security and economic growth. Improved post-harvest management practices is an important part of the solution” said Mamadou Biteye, OBE, Managing Director of The Rockefeller Foundation’s Africa Regional office. “Post-harvest loss is a problem that we can all help solve if partners from both the public and private sector come together. The Congress is intended to support this very solution.”
“Food security is a big priority for the National Government in Kenya, we have set up policies in the agriculture act that address post-harvest loss as an area of investment to improve the sector. However, the biggest gap we have is that there is very little or no research being done on post-harvest loss in Africa and I am confident that by the end of this forum, stakeholders will come up with ideas and solutions that can fast track the pace of progress in reducing food loss,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries Mr. Willy Bett.
The Congress is being hosted by the University of Nairobi in partnership with a consortium of Kenyan universities, research and development organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in conjunction with the World Food Preservation Center (WFPC). The lead strategic partner in this initiative is The Rockefeller Foundation, which currently has a $130million, 7-year initiative to reduce post-harvest loss by half.
The Congress is also supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Commission, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), East African Grain Council (EAGC), East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID), Postharvest Education Foundation, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Horticulture Innovation Lab (USAID), Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) among others.
A key highlight of the Congress will be the announcement of the winners for the “All-Africa Post-Harvest Technology Challenge 2017” which aims at identifying top ten scalable post-harvest loss reducing innovations and technologies on the continent. The competition ran from January to February this year, and so far over 100 entries have come through from across Africa.
About the University of Nairobi: The official host of the Congress, the University of Nairobi is the leading higher learning institution in Kenya and the region. The University seeks to provide quality university education and training and to embody the aspirations of the Kenyan people and the global community through creation, preservation, integration, transmission and utilization of knowledge. With a vision to be a world-class university committed to scholarly excellence, the University responds to the national, regional and Africa’s high-level manpower training needs by developing and evolving strong, diversified academic programs and specializations in basic sciences, applied sciences, technology, humanities and social sciences. The University has a distinguished record of achievements in teaching, research, knowledge transfer and service to society while strategizing for a greater future as the center of academic, research and professional excellence. www.uonbi.ac.ke
About The Rockefeller Foundation
For more than 100 years, The Rockefeller Foundation’s mission has been to promote the well-being of humanity throughout the world. Today, The Rockefeller Foundation pursues this mission through dual goals: advancing inclusive economies that expand opportunities for more broadly shared prosperity, and building resilience by helping people, communities and institutions prepare for, withstand, and emerge stronger from acute shocks and chronic stresses. To achieve these goals, The Rockefeller Foundation works at the intersection of four focus areas – advance health, revalue ecosystems, secure livelihoods, and transform cities – to address the root causes of emerging challenges and create systemic change. Together with partners and grantees, The Rockefeller Foundation strives to catalyze and scale transformative innovations, create unlikely partnerships that span sectors, and take risks others cannot – or will not. For more information, please visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org
About the World Food Preservation Center® LLC
World Food Preservation Center (WFPC) is comprised of twenty-five major research universities and 2 major agricultural research institutes on six continents. Its mission is to enhance the “post-harvest intellectual capital” of developing countries. It accomplishes this by: (1) promoting the graduate education (M.S. and Ph.D.) of young student/scientists in developing countries and having them conduct research on much needed new postharvest technologies; (2) in conjunction with CRC Press (Taylor & Francis) the WFPC publishes the World Food Preservation Book Series that is comprised of text/reference books on postharvest technologies and methodologies for developing countries; and (3) in conjunction with its “Sister” Universities the WFPC organizes continent-wide postharvest congresses & exhibitions.
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