Platform for African – European Partnership in Agricultural Research for Development

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Post-Harvest Food Loss, Waste Are Focus of New U.S. Institute

A new U.S. institute wants to change consumers' perceptions of food loss and serve as an international information and technology hub for economically viable technologies and practices that reduce losses of staple crops such as rice, corn, wheat, oilseeds and pulses. The institute also plans to provide training for people who make their living growing, processing and delivering food.

About one-third of all the food produced for human consumption worldwide is lost, said Steve Sonka, director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The Archer Daniels Midland Company, an agribusiness giant, established the institute with a $10 million grant in January 2011.

After the issue received a surge of attention in the 1970s and 1980s, awareness of post-harvest loss faded. Then, with renewed global focus on agriculture beginning in 2008, interest in food loss prevention re-emerged, according to the World Bank report Missing Food: the Case of Postharvest Grain Losses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Yet, post-harvest loss still attracts just 5 percent of agricultural research dollars, Sonka said.

Sonka will highlight the issue at the Borlaug Symposium, October 17-19 in Des Moines, Iowa, an event that takes place in conjunction with World Food Day, an annual day to raise international understanding of approaches to ending hunger.
"One complexity is the diversity of effects and causes of food loss," Sonka said. "In one locale the problem may be pests in storage. In another it may be during harvesting. And it may be with the same crop in the same country," Sonka said.
Based in Decatur, Illinois, ADM converts corn, oilseeds, wheat and cocoa into food, feed and energy. It operates a global crop transportation network, connecting crops and markets.

Steven Sonka (right) is Director of the ADM Institute for the Prevention of Postharvest Loss at the University of Illinois and emeritus professor of agricultural management.
Video from Agrilinks 27 Aug 2012

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