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Reducing Postharvest Losses and Malnutrition
|By Roberta Lauretti-Bernhard
Senior Technical Advisor
GAIN – Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition
The Geneva-based Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) is an international organization whose mission is to reduce global malnutrition. Around 3.5 billion people — half the people on the planet today — are malnourished. Each year, malnutrition kills 3.1 million children under the age of five and leaves 161 million[i] stunted, trapping generations in lives of poverty and unfulfilled potential. GAIN’s global programs; Large Scale Food Fortification, Business Partnerships in Nutrition, Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition and Agriculture for Nutrition, build alliances through research and technical solutions to end malnutrition. GAIN is a Consultative Partner of the Global Harvest Initiative.
One third of the food produced globally is lost due to inefficient harvesting practices and insufficient storage or wasted during processing, transport, retailing and consumption. Post-harvest loss and waste (PHL/W) contributes to environmental degradation and economic losses, including more than $750 billion in food sales.
Postharvest losses are also nutrient losses, which negatively impacts food security. Human productivity is impacted by nutritional deficiency diseases and contributes to 2 to 3 percent reduction in GDP.[ii] Fruits and vegetables are nutrient powerhouses; they are packed full of vital micronutrients and can improve nutrient absorption in a diet high in phytate (from whole grains, seeds, and pulses).[iii] But fruits and vegetables are extremely perishable and Meta data analysis shows that 50 percent of the produce cultivated in sub-Saharan Africa is lost or wasted.[iv] Reducing PHL/W along all segments of fruit and vegetable value chains could improve nutrition security by capturing otherwise lost nutrients and create profitable, accessible and affordable diversified diets.
“A Mango a Day Supplies Vitamin A”
Mango is a common fruit consumed by people of all economic levels in sub-Saharan Africa. Mangos contain high levels of pro-Vitamin A, a crucial nutrient to the cognitive development of children. In 2014, Kenya produced 181,567 metric tons of mangoes, of which more than 81,567 metric were lost, never reaching the consumer.[v] (See table in endnotes.) If we could reduce the PHL/W of mangoes by just 25 to 35 percent and channel those lost nutrients into the Kenyan food system, we could potentially provide 120,000 malnourished children with their estimated average requirement of pro-Vitamin A every day for a year.
|Watch this video to learn more about GAIN’s Agriculture for Nutrition (AgNut) programs.|
Bridging the Gap between Agriculture and Nutrition
Many of the research and development assistance programs seeking to improve food supply chains in developing countries focus on staple food commodities with high economic value and rely on income-generating pathways to improve nutrition among participating households. GAIN’s Agriculture for Nutrition (AgNut) initiative takes a more holistic approach by working with stakeholders across the food value chain to reduce inefficiencies and identify opportunities for nutrition interventions at each stage – from the farm gate to storage, processing to distribution, retail, marketing and food preparation. GAIN’s “Marketplace for Nutritious Foods” programs in Kenya, Tanzania, and Mozambique have provided funding and technical assistance to entrepreneurs who are bringing affordable, nutritious foods to people who might not otherwise have access. The 2015 GAP Report® features the story of Eric Muraguri and his Ken Chic stores which are providing affordable chicken to low-income customers in Kenya. (Page 71)
VEGMAN is a vegetable farm outside Chimoio, Mozambique, run by Kota Benade, a GAIN Marketplace entrepreneur. VEGMAN has established a retail outlet along the main Chimoio-Catandica highway. This outlet sells the VEGMAN’s own produce as well as other products on consignment. With support from the Marketplace, VEGMAN has created a fully vertically integrated business (from seedling production, to vegetable production, to wholesale and retail sales). The VEGMAN has increased the availability of diverse, nutritious foods to consumers by reducing waste and cutting costs in the value chain from farmer to consumer.
To date, GAIN Marketplace enterprises have delivered more than 6 million servings of nutritious foods. The Marketplace program is also providing valuable insights into the supply chain issues and with the growing global efforts to reduce PHL/W. GAIN’s AgNut team will continue to set their sights on the issue and the implications it has for nutrition and economic development in 2016.
[ii] World Bank. (2015). Nutrition Overview: Context. Retrieved from
[iv] FAO Statistical Yearbook, 2009