Postharvest loss is collective food loss all along the production chain, from harvest and handling, to storage and processing, to packing and transportation. The causes of postharvest loss are complex and vary depending on the weather, region, and crop, but common culprits in the developing world include a lack of proper storage, lack of appropriate transportation, and lack of information on the problem and associated solutions.
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, by the year 2050, the world population is expected to reach 9 billion people, and demand for food will increase by 60 percent. Increasing production is not enough. Roughly one-third of the food produced in the world goes to waste – a staggering 1.3 billion tons every year. The U.S. government serves as a global leader to address food security and post harvest loss through Feed the Future, President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative.
Combating Postharvest Loss: The Fight Against Global Hunger
The Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs along with the Office of Global Food Security and the Foreign Service Institute hosted the conference “Food Security and Minimizing Postharvest Loss,” on February 19, 2013. Over 150 government officials, representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, and foreign diplomatic corps participated in discussions on postharvest loss solutions, focusing on perishable and non-perishable goods, cold chain storage, financing, research, and implementation.