Four Ways WFP's Supply Chain Expertise is Fighting Post-Harvest Losses

Global food production has reached an all-time high, however one-third of all food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted - approximately 1.3 billion tons. Post-harvest food loss is one of the leading causes of food insecurity for millions of farm families around the world, impacting their nutrition, health, and financial stability.

Here’s how the World Food Programme's supply chain expertise is helping to achieve Zero Loss for Zero Hunger:

1) Improved storage and handling practices among small-scale farmers

Thanks to WFP's deep field presence and supply chain expertise, we know that simple and affordable steps can drastically reduce food losses. Improving storage infrastructure and sharing storage best practices can increase the availability of food on local and regional markets, leading to improved food security and increased resilience for smallholder farmers. 

WFP works with local manufacturers on the development, production, and sale of simple technologies that reduce post-harvest losses, such as threshers, blowers, and storage silos. For example, in Uganda, WFP and local farming organizations are working together to provide trainings in improved farming practices, and most importantly, give metal storage silos to 57,000 farming families. So far, the results have been significant: thousands of smallholders have benefitted from increased income and a more sustainable farming business.  

2) Promoting sustainable business solutions

“Success will come from the hands of farmers, in homesteads far from here, who will play the catalytic role not only preventing losses but in achieving a world of Zero Hunger.” --Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director

Through supply chain analysis, WFP is able to ensure sustainable business solutions. We understand the complexities of proper food storage and recognize the levels of food quality required at the local and regional level. Wi​th this knowledge in hand, WFP is able to directly assist farming families with the help of local partners.

Not only do better post-harvest handling practices allow farmers to retain more of their harvest, they are also able to store their crops for longer periods of time. Farmers can then benefit from sales for better prices at later points in time, thereby providing them with a market opportunity to sustainably sell their surplus and grow their business.

3) Improving food security and enhancing local supply chains 

WFP operates on a large global scale, using extensive field presence. With our experienced staff, partnerships with farmers’ organizations, and logistics and procurement expertise, WFP is well placed to play an active role in post-harvest loss mitigation and support smallholder farmers to participate in markets.  By enhancing local supply chains, WFP has the opportunity to take on the challenge of post-harvest loss and bring about a profound change in global food security. ​

4) Teaching farmers to meet quality standards

Poor handling after harvest can result in low-quality crops that can have a negative impact on health and nutrition. Under WFP’s Purchase for Progress project, inadequate crop quality initially posed a major challenge for WFP purchases from the smallholder farmers in the program. 

To address these quality issues, P4P in Guatemala developed and launched the Blue Box - a testing kit for on-the-spot screening of food quality parameters and grading. The Blue Box has been introduced globally, along with training, which has proven effective at raising awareness about the importance of crop quality and therefore adopting improved post-harvest handling practices.

Good progress has been made in mitigating post-harvest losses, but much more can be done! Learn more here:  http://www.wfp.org/content/wfp-post-harvest-loss-prevention