On February 19, the U.S. Department of State hosted “Food Security and Minimizing Postharvest Loss: Markets, Applied Research and Innovation” in Washington, DC. The event examined the impact of postharvest loss on food security in low-income countries, where factors like improper storage, pest contamination, and extreme temperatures pose a serious threat to farmers whose livelihoods depend on being able to sell their crops.
Bringing together representatives from the private sector, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, foreign diplomatic corps, and the U.S. Government, the postharvest event identified promising research, innovations and business practices that can help stem postharvest loss. In particular, participants discussed scaling up the use of effective storage, marketing and processing technologies that can have a profound impact on food security. Participants identified the need for innovations in measurement of postharvest loss as well as mechanisms for financing scalable solutions.
In a panel session, Assistant Secretary of State Jose W. Fernandez discussed ways to work with the private sector to arrive at solutions to postharvest loss. He was joined by Bill Hudson, CEO of the Global Cold Chain Alliance; Philippe Villers, president of GrainPro; Bruce McNamer, president and CEO of TechnoServe; and Margaret Enis Spears, director of the Office of Markets, Partnerships and Innovation in USAID’s Bureau for Food Security.
Under Secretary Robert Hormats delivered remarks, highlighting the need to examine postharvest loss from a local environment perspective and to harness the power of technology and innovation to find solutions. He used India as an example of a country where the private sector recognizes the opportunity to invest in technology to address postharvest loss. Hormats noted that partner governments must be deeply involved in addressing postharvest loss issues, referencing the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition as an example of how partner governments can work to create an enabling environment for investment in agriculture and innovation.
U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Research, Education and Economics Ann Bartuska led a discussion on confronting the challenges of postharvest loss through scaling access to technologies that have been developed through years of research.