Research Efforts Need to be Mounted that Match the Enormity of the Problem Caused by Postharvest Losses of Food Worldwide.
Because of the emphasis in developing countries on food production technologies over food preservation technologies, we have a limited number of technologies to preserve food in developing countries. Finding solutions to this problem will require a major research effort and the talents of some of the world's leading scientists.
The magnitude of the world's pending food shortage justifies such an effort. Political crises and violence often arise from food shortages. Several wars of the 20th century were waged over natural resources; diplomats have expressed fear that wars of the late 21st century could be fought over food. The Manhattan Project and NASA's Apollo program revealed how scientists and engineers dedicated toward a single important mission can accomplish much. The WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC plays a key role in meeting the challenges of food security in developing countries.
Major Food Losses are Suffered in Developing Countries After Harvest Because of the Lack of a Cold Chain to Keep Produce at Lower Temperatures to Prevent Decay, Pests, and Deterioration.
As our population increases, it has been estimated that three-quarters of this new population will live in urban areas. The result will be that the distance between where food is produced and consumed in developing countries will increase. The greater distances required to transport food to the consumer will result in greater postharvest losses— and greater need to develop effective cold chains and other food preservation technologies to store and transport food.
Active and Intelligent Packaging to Prolong the Shelf-life of Harvested Commodities
Research will be conducted at the "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC on innovative active and intelligent packaging technologies, specifically designed to meet the needs of developing countries. These products can significantly extend the shelf-life of harvested commodities without refrigeration, often at a low cost.
As food deteriorates it respires, consuming oxygen and releasing carbon dioxide. The regulation of these gasses in packages and containers has been found to be a very effective way to control the freshness of harvested commodities. Research is conducted at the "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC that will translate the latest advances in active and intelligent packaging to meet the needs of low-income populations and farming communities in the developing world.
Containers: An Important Part of the Solution
The container industry has recognized the problem of food loss in the developing world and is establishing new controlled atmosphere and refrigeration technology to extend the shelf-life of food during transport. The "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC will conduct research on the use of Controlled Atmosphere (CA) and Modified Atmosphere (MAP) containers to extend the shelf-life of food. The Center will also help innovate containers that use renewable resources, diminishing the need for diesel and oil. Solar-powered container refrigeration is one promising example.
Development of Bio-Pesticides for the Control of Postharvest Diseases and Insects
Much of the loss of food that occurs after harvest is due to postharvest diseases (decay) and insect infestations. In the developed world, synthetic pesticides have been the primary tool to reduce these losses, but they have exacted a toll on human health and the environment. As an alternative, bio-pesticides have been developed from natural antagonistic populations of yeasts that occur on the surfaces of fruits and vegetables. These antagonists have been isolated and developed into natural products as alternatives to synthetic pesticides. The "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLCeducates young postharvest scientists in the science and methodologies required for them to develop their own biopesticides in their respective countries. This model has already proven successful in developing countries such as Mauritania and Egypt.
Knowledge Exchange Will Be a Two-Way Street at the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER LLC
Developing-world students/scientists who attend the "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC will bring intimate knowledge of postharvest food loss problems in their respective countries. In many cases, they also bring an understanding of unique technologies to solve those problems. The interaction of young postharvest students/scientists from various parts of the developing world with a world-class faculty provides an exceptional creative environment. The host institution and its faculty and students at-large benefit from their communication with the diverse student body attending the "Sister" Universities of the WORLD FOOD PRESERVATION CENTER® LLC.