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Reducing post-harvest loss and waste; crucial to ensuring food and nutrition security in the IGAD region

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Farmers use maize thresher machine provided by FAO to reduce post-harvest loss in Afar region, Ethiopia. © FAO/Tamiru Legesse

IGAD’s Ministers for agriculture endorsed a new strategy on post-harvest loss management

12 August 2021, Addis Ababa - The IGAD post-harvest loss management (PHLM) strategy was endorsed at a virtual ministerial meeting organized by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) on 12 August 2021 with the technical support of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The PHLM strategy will guide future interventions and activities aimed at reducing food loss and waste towards improving nutrition and food security in the IGAD region. It will contribute to meeting PHL reduction targets under the third commitment of the Malabo Declaration on Africa Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation and the Sustainable Development Goal 12 that call for reducing by half the PHL levels, respectively, by 2025 and 2030. The strategy was technically reviewed and validated prior to its endorsement by Ministers for Agriculture of IGAD member states at the virtual meeting.

*H.E. Workneh Gebeyehu, Executive Secretary of IGAD, in an official statement *indicated that Post-Harvest Loss (PHL) is an important but often forgotten factor that exacerbates food and nutrition insecurity in the IGAD region. Welcoming the PHL strategy, formulated with FAO's support, he stressed that "IGAD is committed to the full implementation of the PHL strategy and to work with member states, development partners and concerned stakeholders towards contributing to the attainment of the global sustainable development goals and the AU agenda 2063."

In his opening remarks, Chimimba David Phiri, FAO Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa noted that food losses in Sub-Saharan Africa can be as high as 50 per cent, in high-value commodities products from production up to retail. In 2018, the IGAD region experienced post-harvest losses in grains of approximately 4.1 million metric tons, valued at over USD 1.3 billion, he said.

According to the African Union’s 2019 second Biennial Review Report on the Implementation of the 2014 Malabo Declaration, of the eight IGAD countries, only Uganda in the IGAD region was on track to meet the PHL targets.

Phiri called out to member states to enhance investment in the prevention of food losses, which deprive the population of safe and nutritious food for human consumption, rather than investing only in increasing food production. “Given that nearly a third of the food we produce is lost or wasted, there is a need for governments to seriously consider allocating adequate budgets for food loss and waste reduction”, he concluded.

On her part, H.E. Josefa Sacko, Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment of the African Union Commission, urged member states to refocus and include the reduction of post-harvest food losses in national Covid-19 recovery plans to transform food systems and, in turn, contribute to ending hunger in Africa.

IGAD member state Ministers for Agriculture unanimously adopted the resolution endorsing the IGAD regional post-harvest loss (PHL) management strategy at the event, following statements they delivered reflecting the post-harvest loss situation in their respective countries.

The next steps agreed included ensuring the domestication of the strategy to the national level, either through integration with national frameworks or through the development of new national strategies. Participants of the event consisted of post-harvest management technical experts, agriculture ministers in IGAD member countries and representatives from IGAD Secretariat, Africa Union Commission, FAO Subregional Office for Eastern Africa (FAOSFE) and representatives of the IGAD member states, other UN agencies, non-governmental organizations, and partner organizations.

Reducing Post-Harvest Loss in the IGAD region

Food loss and waste represent economic losses for all actors along agri-food value chains, including end consumers. Any loss of produce translates to losses of resources, such as labour, water, energy and land, as well as avoidable climate change and social impacts. This exacerbates food and nutrition insecurity.

FAO in partnership with the AUC and the Rockefeller Foundation piloted an initiative on practical storage solutions. These include metal silos and hermetically sealed bags to store grains and improved crates to transport fresh fruits and vegetables to reduce damage during transportation. In 2018, a continental post-harvest management strategy was developed to effectively guide and coordinate food losses and waste reduction initiatives at the regional and national levels to meet the PHL Malabo and SDG targets. IGAD has dedicatedly included the objective of reducing post-harvest losses in the region’s efforts to build efficient and resilient food systems for improved food security, nutrition and livelihoods.

Matching IGAD’s commitment, FAO has launched a project titled “Post-Harvest Loss Reduction for Enhanced Food and Nutrition Security in the IGAD Member States” towards improving the capacity of IGAD and its member states to bring about lasting solutions of ending post-harvest loss in the region.

Media contact :

Tezeta M. Hailemeskel: Communication Specialist, FAO - SFE

Abebe D. Banjaw**: **Communication Specialist, FAO - SFE

Mahamed Abdillahi** :** Communication Officer, IGAD