Course Details - Lost Harvest and Wasted Food

Feeding the world in 2050?

Estimates indicate that 30-40% of the food produced globally is lost post-harvest or wasted because it is never consumed. Without these losses sufficient food is produced to feed the world population, even when it reaches 9 billion people. Science fiction? Maybe but not completely. In this course we will look at ways to minimise losses, reduce food waste and explore alternative uses. Ultimately this should contribute to increased food security.

Missing food

Large contrasts exist in how we manage the food we have available. While in parts of our societies there is a shortage of food, in the more urban, wealthier communities good food that is beyond the sell-by date is thrown away. For example, grain losses in sub-Saharan Africa could total 20%, an estimated $4 billion (FAO/WB, 2011). UK estimates of food never consumed are 19% (WRAP, 2011). Households, retail such as wet or supermarkets, and food outlets all contribute to this waste. Optimising the farm to fork principle through appropriate storage, chain logistics, and managing stocks, can contribute to food security.

Where does it go wrong and what to do?

Although technologies to prevent post-harvest losses, logistics and minimising food waste exist, they are often not used, for various reasons. A conducive policy environment, public services along with an actively involved private sector and other stakeholders in good collaboration with each other could reduce the amount of ‘missing food’. The re-utilisation of wasted food as feed or organic waste to produce compost or energy is still in its infancy. In this course we will explore the crop supply chain and the way efficiency can be optimised through looking at the 'hotspots' of food loss, requirements for primary production, storage from intermediate technology to cold chains and warehousing, safeguarding food safety and how to optimise the food systems from farm to fork.

Learning through experience

The course will use a mix of lectures, discussions, group work and field trips with the aim to expose you, as far as possible, to all aspects of post-harvest and waste management. Meeting course colleagues from other countries but similar interests leads to exchange of experiences and mutual learning. The programme is flexible to suit participants’ needs and participants’ case studies are the basis of the group work.

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