Stop Food loss and waste – Dutch innovations for efficient food chains in emerging markets

Postharvest Network workshop December 13, 2017 – On December 13, 2017, the Postharvest Network organized a break-out session during the AgriFoodTech Platform conference, exploring opportunities for the Dutch agrofood sector in the reduction of food loss and waste in emerging markets.

The session started with a presentation by Michiel van Erkel from the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, with an outline of the Dutch policy context and facilitation. Second, Bhairavi Jani, CEO of the Indian logistics service provider SCA, demonstrated the economic growth potential of India and encouraged Dutch entrepreneurs to take part in that growth. Natalia Basso from the Argentinian Ministry of Agriculture inspired with the example of the Argentinian programme on food loss and waste reduction. The session finalized with a view on the new structure of the Postharvest Network 2.0 starting in January 2018 including the close cooperation of the core partners AgriProFocus, FME and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research.

According to Michiel van Erkel of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality, reducing food loss and waste is a “triple win”: it leads to economic gains and reduces economic losses; it allows feeding more people; and it reduces the pressure on climate, water and land resources. The Netherlands has the knowledge and experience to play an active role in reducing food losses in the food supply chain. Working on food supply chains requires operating on the cutting edge of agriculture, trade and logistics. Action is needed in separate chains, but also integrally throughout the whole value chain. It requires partnerships between the private sector, knowledge institutes, civil society and governments. For these reasons the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Agriculture initiated the Postharvest Network in 2014. Michiel van Erkel highlighted some examples of lessons learned about doing business in developing countries. One of the lessons is to not introduce products that have not been proven to work: a new innovation in a completely new context and culture includes too many variables. A second lesson is that the training of local people is crucial. To use the innovation and to maintain it well, aftersales and mentorship for entrepreneurs is necessary and needs qualified staff. One of the instruments the Ministry of Agriculture developed and introduced in cooperation with the Postharvest Network was the “voucher system” for easing up the start of new interventions to reduce food losses in emerging markets. As the first year proved successful with a number of interesting initiatives, the Ministry of Agriculture will continue this instrument in 2018 and offer EUR 100,000 for a second round of vouchers.

Bhairavi Jani showed the enormous potential India offers. India has a huge agricultural sector and ranks in the world’s five largest producers of over 80% of agricultural produce items. It is the world’s second largest producer of wheat and rice. However, 40% of all produce is lost after harvest, and 7,000 people die every day due to malnourishment and hunger. Bhairavi Jani stated that India is at the beginning of an exponential growth phase. The Indian government has launched a programme to double the income of farmers by 2022 and to reduce postharvest losses to below 10%. To make this happen, the agrofood supply chain in India (and more specifically the cold chain) has to be reengineered. The challenge is to close the gap between feeding more people while using less water and less land resources. She urged Dutch entrepreneurs to take part in this growth. She advised to start small, but think large, i.e. starting a project at small scale but keeping upscaling in mind from the very beginning. The common project of SCA and WFBR on tomatoes and bananas is a successful example and resulted in two supply chain enhancement projects that are currently implemented.
The presentation of Bhairavi Jani can be found here.

Natalia Basso of the Ministry of Agriculture of Argentina, gave an overview of the Food Loss and Waste programme in her country. A recent survey showed that up to 45% of fruit and vegetables are lost after harvesting. The government has set up a national platform to reduce food loss and waste with 70 members representing all parties involved in the food chain (restaurants, producers, NGOs, universities, logistics service providers and others). This platform developed a national action plan for reaching the Sustainable Development Goal 12, target 12.3 on food loss and waste. First proposals are to amend the law to make food donation for companies easier and to develop a methodology to identify bottlenecks in agrofood chains leading to losses. Argentina has invited partners from the Dutch golden triangle to cooperate in the horticulture sector and agrologistics, which was kicked off by a first common workshop in Buenos Aires in November 2017.
The presentation of Natalia Basso can be found here.

Toine Timmermans of Wageningen University & Research launched the Postharvest Network 2.0 with three core partners: AgriProFocus, FME and Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. These partners will work together to develop projects from first awareness raising to pilot designs, implementation and upscaling. Work that has been done in recent years by the Postharvest Network has proved this model successful; first results can be seen in trajectories in countries like Vietnam and Indonesia.
The presentation of Toine Timmermans can be found here.