Washington and Ames – Food loss and waste is a global problem that negatively impacts the bottom line of businesses and farmers, particularly small-holder farmers, wastes limited resources and damages the environment. The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), The and Iowa State University are today launching the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction at the 2019 Iowa International Outreach Symposium. Through this consortium, food loss and waste thought leaders and experts from across the globe will work in tandem with industry and nonprofit organizations to address social, economic and environmental impacts from food loss and waste.
“Feeding a growing global population demands innovation at all levels—from planting to processing to consumption. This consortium will help farmers across the globe use technology to continue using resources efficiently,” said FFAR’s Executive Director Sally Rockey. “Optimizing food production practices – and reducing food waste and loss – is critical for ensuring that farmers are profitable, consumers are satisfied, and environmental strain is limited.”
Due to the volume of food that is moved globally, food loss and waste affects producers, manufacturers, distributors, and end-users. For instance, more than 40 percent of fruits and vegetables in developing regions spoil before they can be consumed. Many of these goods include mangoes, avocado, pineapples, cocoa, and bananas, many of which are exported to the United States. This loss negatively impacts the bottom line for farmers, who are not compensated for their products. Consumers then don’t have access to these popular foods. Additionally, food waste forces farmers to use precious natural resources producing food that either never makes it to the supermarket or is otherwise thrown out by consumers due to quality issues, creating a significant drain on environmental resources.
In 2016, the Rockefeller Foundation launched the YieldWise Initiative aimed at reducing both food loss in developing nations like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania and food waste in developed markets, like the United States. In sub-Saharan Africa, YieldWise provides farmers with access to segmented markets, technologies, and solutions that curb preventable crop loss and facilitates training that helps them solidify buyer agreements with markets in African communities.
“To nourish, sustainably, nearly 10 billion people by 2050, we must implement a menu of solutions that simultaneously shifts diets toward plant-based foods, closes the yield gap, and reduces food loss and waste,” said Rafael Flor, Director, Food, The Rockefeller Foundation. “This is paramount to meeting both the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goal 12. Failing to reduce food loss and waste will make the challenge of achieving a sustainable food future significantly more difficult.”
Food loss and waste highlight the inefficiencies in our food system. According to the FAO, nearly 1.3 billion tons of food—costing roughly $940 billion—are either lost or wasted yearly, generating about 8 percent of annual global greenhouse gas emissions. Food is lost more at the consumption stage in higher-income countries, while more food is lost at handling and storage stages in lower-income regions.
This consortium will work collaboratively to develop a scalable approach for the adoption of the YieldWise model and provide farmers with cost-effective strategies and technologies that link their crop supply to the market demand. This will allow farmers to gain more value from their crop and become more profitable, while also stimulating local economic growth and improving the resiliency of rural communities.
FFAR is contributing $2.78 million for this three-year project, which partner organizations are matching for a total $5.56 million project budget. Participating institutions include The Rockefeller Foundation, Iowa State University, USA; University of Maryland, USA; Wageningen University and Research, Netherlands; Zamorano University, Honduras; University of São Paulo, Brazil; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana; and the Volcani Center, Israel.
About the Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research
The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization originally established by bipartisan Congressional support in the 2014 Farm Bill, builds unique partnerships to support innovative and actionable science addressing today’s food and agriculture challenges. FFAR leverages public and private resources to increase the scientific and technological research, innovation, and partnerships critical to enhancing sustainable production of nutritious food for a growing global population. The FFAR Board of Directors is chaired by Mississippi State University President Mark Keenum, Ph.D., and includes ex officio representation from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and National Science Foundation.
About The Rockefeller Foundation
The Rockefeller Foundation advances new frontiers of science, data, policy, and innovation to solve global challenges related to health, food, power and economic mobility. As a science-driven philanthropy focused on building collaborative relationships with partners and grantees, the Foundation seeks to inspire and foster large-scale human impact that promotes the well-being of humanity throughout the world by identifying and accelerating breakthrough solutions, ideas and conversations. For more information, visit www.rockefellerfoundation.org.