The 2008 and 2011 food price spikes sparked concerns about whether the growing global population would be able to feed itself in years to come, and with this came a renewed increase in interest in the level of postharvest losses (PHL) and the potential to improve food security by reducing them. It has been estimated that an additional one billion people could be fed if food crop losses were halved, which could potentially relieve some of the pressure on the significant increase in production that would be required.
One way to address food security in developing countries is to ensure the inclusion of infrastructure development and technology improvements in postharvest best practices. However, the extent to which reductions in PHL can cost-effectively improve food security is unclear, and there is a need to understand the existing and potential investments and technologies that affect losses, and their cost-effectiveness.
In the new paper "Returns to Investment in Reducing Postharvest Food Losses and Increasing Agricultural Productivity Growth" by Mark Rosegrant et al just released by the Post-2015 Consensus project, the authors seek to better understand the levels of investment required to effectively reduce PHL.
This work was undertaken as part of, and funded by, the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM) led by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). PIM focuses on improved measurement of post-harvest losses within the research cluster "Interventions to Improve Value Chains" of its Flagship 3: Inclusive Value Chains and Efficient Trade.
Featured image: S. Mojumder/Drik/CIMMYT