First Ever Africa-wide Post-Harvest Congress Ends in Nairobi with a Call for Increased Investment in the Sector
Nairobi, March 29, 2017; The curtains came down on the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition with over 600 delegates and 54 exhibitors from 40 countries in attendance. The event, which whose theme was “Reducing Food Losses and Waste: Sustainable Solutions for Africa”, discussed challenges and opportunities in the postharvest management sector in Africa and developed concrete plans for post-harvest food loss and waste reduction in the context. It provided delegates with an opportunity to share information about new approaches and research in the sector, learn about emerging technologies, and build strategic partnerships with the overall objective of identifying effective interventions to reduce food loss waste on the continent.
The event, which brought together scientists, government executives from the agriculture sector, local and international agribusiness firms, farmers, financial institutions, potential investors, academic institutions, civil society organizations and thought leaders also featured a post-harvest technologies and innovations challenge that collated data and showcased emerging technologies in post-harvest as a great resource for stakeholders in Africa’s agriculture sector. A range of emerging and scalable technologies were showcased by extension agents, entrepreneurs, investors, donors, and researchers with the top ten innovations being pitched and acknowledged during a special event held during the Congress.
Delegates discussed actionable strategies to reverse the current trend where Africa loses 40 per cent of its grains and 50 per cent of its fruits before reaching the market. They attributed the huge losses to poor policies, retrogressive post-harvest management practices, lack of structured markets, inadequate storage in households and on farms and limited processing capacity. After strong deliberations, delegates ultimately came out with a number of recommendations aimed at ensuring that countries fulfill postharvest-related commitments contained in the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Malabo Declaration (2014) which seek to halve postharvest losses by 2030 and 2025 respectively. They called upon government, the private sector, and other actors to rally behind the realization of the provisions of the two policy directions.
The congress expressed its commitment to the principles of zero tolerance to postharvest loss and waste management with delegates called for stock taking of existing, applicable, and appropriate technologies and solutions for the different value chains particularly those targeting smallholder farmers. Delegates also called for value chain and product diversification to support, empower and fulfill the requirements of large scale “anchor buyers" as well as the establishment of capacity development and knowledge sharing platforms to enhance service delivery in the sector. Further they called for increased investments in new technologies to reduce post-harvest losses and recommended increased participation on the private sector in research and value chain activities.
The Congress was hosted by the University of Nairobi in partnership with a consortium of Kenyan universities, Research and Development Organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in conjunction with the World Food Preservation Center® LLC (WFPC). The lead strategic partner was the Rockefeller Foundation, which currently has a $130million 7 year initiative to reduce post-harvest loss in representative value chains, with a current focus on maize in Tanzania, mango in Kenya, and tomato in Nigeria. The congress was also supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Commission, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), East African Grain Council (EAGC), East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID), Postharvest Education Foundation, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Horticulture Innovation Lab (USAID), Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), Global Cold Chain Alliance (GCCA), International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Compatible Technology International (CTI) among others.