Research groups launch consortium to address harvest loss and food waste

USA – The Foundation for Food and Agriculture Research (FFAR), The Rockefeller Foundation and Iowa State University have launched the Consortium for Innovation in Post-Harvest Loss and Food Waste Reduction to address harvest loss and food waste.

The consortium was launched at the 2019 Iowa International Outreach Symposium, with a goal to enhance collaboration among leaders and experts across the globe to address social, economic and environmental impacts from food loss and waste.

It further looks to address challenges faced by producers, manufacturers, distributors and end-users while building capacity in food production.

The consortium will be located at Iowa State and will develop a scalable approach for adoption of the YieldWise initiative, launched by the Rockefeller Foundation in 2016 to reduce both food loss in developing nations like Kenya, Nigeria and Tanzania, and food waste in developed markets like the United States.

This will allow farmers to gain more value from their crops and become more profitable, while also stimulating local economic growth and improving the resiliency of rural communities.

“Our consortium approach will build academic and entrepreneurial capacity of the next generation by engaging researchers and students in multi-national, multi-disciplinary teams in the project identification, planning, and execution phases together with professionals from the private and public sectors,” said Dirk Maier, the consortium director and a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Biosystems Engineering at Iowa State.

The three-year project has received funding from FFAR which will contribute US$2.78 million while partner organisations will bring in US$5.56 million.

According to the FAO, nearly 1.3 billion tons of food, costing roughly US$940 billion; are either lost or wasted yearly, generating about 8% 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.

“Feeding a growing global population demands innovation at all levels — from planting to processing to consumption,” said Sally Rockey, executive director of the FFAR.

“This consortium will help farmers across the globe use technology to continue using resources efficiently.

“Optimizing food production practices is critical for ensuring that farmers are profitable, food is plentiful and accessible, and the environment is preserved.”

Participating institutions include The Rockefeller Foundation, Iowa State University, U.S.; University of Maryland, U.S.; Wageningen University and Research, The Netherlands; Zamorano University, Honduras; University of São Paulo, Brazil; Stellenbosch University, South Africa; University of Nairobi, Kenya; Kwame Nkrumah University.

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