Launch of Postharvest Network

On December 4, 2014 the Postharvest Network  was launched during a kick-off event in the Hof van Wageningen. The Postharvest Network aims to reduce food losses by implementing practical and proven solutions in the food supply chain of fresh products. It is a network of Dutch specialized companies, knowledge institutes like Wageningen University and the Dutch Ministries of Foreign and Economic Affairs.

The Dutch government has strongly contributed to the launch of the Postharvest Network and challenged it to develop concrete projects to reduce food losses with market partners. The national government contributes actively (also financially) to this process.

During the event, Roald Lapperre, Deputy Director-General of Agrofood at the Ministry of Economic Affairs said: ‘The world population will rise to 9 billion people. More than half of them will live in cities and the rural population will be aging even more. How do we ensure that everyone gets enough food? This is a huge challenge. In addition, up to 40% of the harvest is lost in the food supply chain. Reducing these food losses contributes significantly to the reduction of food shortage’.

The Ministries of Economic Affairs and Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands, together with Wageningen University and Research Centre and the business community in the Netherlands, therefore took the initiative to establish the Postharvest Network.

Marcel Vernooij, a member of the management team of the department of Sustainable Economic Development of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs added: ’Dutch companies and knowledge institutions have very practical knowledge to reduce food losses. By starting the Postharvest Network we want to make this knowledge more accessible’.

Led by Project Manager Dirk ‘t Hooft (former Director of the Holland International Distribution Council), the Postharvest Network is working on its first projects in India, Mexico and Egypt.
‘t Hooft stated: ‘The Postharvest Network focuses on reducing food losses in the agrifood supply chain. Through improved collaboration of parties involved in the whole supply chain, the food losses have already been reduced’.

At the request of SCA, a large Indian logistics company, Dinalog (the Dutch Institute for Logistics) explored the bottlenecks in the supply chain of tomatoes and bananas together with the Wageningen Food & Biobased Research Centre. Liesbeth Staps of Dinalog described: ‘We explored the entire chain from the perspective of local farmers and we involved them in our approach. Such an approach is unique in India and leads to new insights and breakthroughs’. The partners in the Postharvest Network are now, together with their members, investigating how they can help solve India’s problems in this area. Herman de Boon, Chairman of the Committee of Recommendation of the Postharvest Network said: ‘The Network will only fly if there is a sound business case underlying it. Before reaching an acceptable business case, you have to invest time and money. It is great that the government helps us with small funds to develop the targeted business case. We will certainly respond in a positive way to the challenge of the government’.