Identifying the Most Optimal Interventions Reducing Food Loss, Waste and Related Greenhouse Gas Emissions In Africa

  • 25th September 2019
  • by secretary
2nd All Africa Post-harvest Conference
During the 2nd All Africa Postharvest Congress & Exhibition at the headquarters of the African Union Commission in Ethiopia Wageningen University and Research had the opportunity to share in several sessions the newly established worldwide hotspot analysis as developed in the CCAFS project.
Figure 1: WUR (Xuezhen Go, Jan Broeze)
This high-level analysis specifies Food Loss and Waste and related Greenhouse Gas Emissions per product category and activity along the chain in the different regions in the world. Hans Hoogeveen, ambassador and permanent representative of the Netherlands to the UN Organizations for Food and Agriculture in Rome, adopted the approach and recommended in his keynote speech in the opening session and as a panelist this as a new approach towards food loss and waste, looking beyond the loss volumes but include Greenhouse Gas Emissions because this will affect future policy agendas related to climate change. (see figure 1)

According to our most recent (and scientifically founded) data food loss and waste contribute 20 to 25% of food production related greenhouse gas emissions. From a climate perspective, all food loss and waste do not induce equal emissions. Bovine meat, dairy, and rice are top greenhouse gas same climate footprint and same hotspot crops. Currently, the top 3 polluting countries are China, India, and the United States of America. Apart from Nigeria, African countries still have a relative low climate footprint compared to countries in Industrialised Asia, South- and South East-Asia, Europe and the US. However, Africa has a high loss volumes of staple food crops like roots and tubers, see figure 2.emitting food categories.Naturally, not all countries in the world have the 
According to FAO’s recent overview of food security and nutrition in Africa: 
  • approximately 1 in every 5 people of the population of the African continent is undernourished;
  • Africa has remained the most food insecure continent in the world;
  • compared to 2015 hunger in Africa continues to rise, especially in Western- and Eastern Africa, after many years of decline;
  • climate change is a present and growing threat to food security and nutrition in Africa.

To ensure Africans’ food security priority should be given to the reduction of food loss and waste and especially to the reduction of loss in roots and tubers. Next to that, Africa has a growing middle class moving into the big cities. This migration goes hand in hand with a change of diets. Increased consumption of milk and bovine meat of this growing middle class is the prediction. This is likely to go along with an increase of African’s food loss and waste related greenhouse gas emissions. With current food loss and waste percentages for those food categories this would also induce huge food loss waste induced greenhouse gas emissions. Interventions in these supply chains are essential to lower the losses. We expect that the necessary interventions will be driven by opportunities in upcoming middle and upper markets. 

Well intended interventions to reduce food loss and waste can go along with negative trade-off’s like the increase of greenhouse gas emissions through energy use, packaging material use, etc. With our recently developed decision support Agro-Chain Greenhouse gas Emissions Calculator (ACGE Calculator) we can guide industries and policies makers to identify the most optimum interventions considering both food loss and waste and greenhouse gas emissions. 

This work is implemented as part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which is carried out with support from CGIAR Fund Donors and through bilateral funding agreements.