A large quantity of food is wasted and lost in developing countries, which could be prevented. According to the International Business Times article by Nat Rudarakanchana (2014), food waste is high in South and Southeast Asia, where 25% of global food waste is produced. Almost 90% of this food loss is in production, storage, and transportation in these developing nations (Rudarakanchana, 2014). In Africa, the estimated annual loss of grain crop is 4 billion USD out of 27 billion USD total grain production (“Missing Food”, 2011).
One way that food is lost is because of inadequate storage and poor care after the crop is harvested. While being stored, crops can be destroyed by fungi, rodents, and insects, either reducing the yield or forcing farmers to throw it away (“One third”, 2015). If we can improve storage after harvest production, we can decrease losses, which would increase profits for small scale farmers and decrease the variation in yield size from year to year. Stabilizing and increasing yield in developing countries will help maintain food security and allow for markets to grow in future years. Chairperson, CEO, and president of Archer Daniels Midland Company, Patricia Woertz (2010) said, “Preserving what is already grown is critical to reaching those who need crops most and to making the most of the land, water, energy, and other inputs already used to grow crops.” Storage is a crucial part of the global food security solution.
Table 1: Causes of food losses by percent in 2009. (“Missing Food”, 2011)
Our Storage Solution
We can improve technology for storage, to keep the yield from harvest at a maximum and increase agriculture. Suggested solutions for storage have included storage containers, bags, and silos. In our solution, we will incorporate these storage techniques, in addition to several others. On this website, we also suggest solar drying for grain, warehouses, and the use of these technologies in conjunction with farmers cooperatives. This organization of farmers would allow technology to be used on a large scale and bought collectively.
While crops are in storage, pests can invade or mold can develop. For this reason, drying and cleaning techniques are vital to preventing crop loss. Through our proposed farmers cooperatves, farmers would learn drying techniques. Use of these techniques for post-harvest treatment of crops can contribute to the overall improvement of the efficiency of storage systems. We can also implement the use of storage bags to prevent crop loss. Chemicals can be viewed as an effective way to eliminate pests and bacteria (“Missing food”, 2011), and could be introduced as a short term solution for yield loss. However, pesticides would be expensive and create the difficulty of transportation. Also, to achieve our goal of an environmentally responsible solution, we would prefer a sustainable method of eliminating pests. Organic methods create fewer climate and ecological problems in the future, as seen from past historical cases and the possibility of problems we cannot anticipate at this time. Instead, the use of storage bags made from tightly woven fabric or synthetic materials can be used to effectively keep grain safe (World Bank, 2011). These bags can be used before crops are placed in silos, instead of silos for small amounts of crop, or inside a silo.
Current Silo Implementation
Silos are common storage systems in developed countries, but they could be used more in developing countries to store crops. When looking forward to improve the storage we can look at a few examples of trends in the developing world. In Mozambique, there is a model of silo construction we would like to implement. Over the past few years, silo and warehouse construction has been prioritized, throughout the country. Silos with capacities of 2,000-tons and 15,000-tons have been built near production areas and urban areas, respectively. This has been achieved because private entrepreneurs have set up a system of leasing large silos to private farmers. There are also silos that are owned by cities and storage space is rented out to farmers or retailers who lack other storage space (“Missing food”, 2011). Another example of a country that has recently invested in improved storage, is Zambia, where high capacity storage complexes have been constructed near urban areas (“Missing food, 2011”). Both of these set ups are solutions for small farmers who cannot single-handedly afford large, expensive storage silos, while increasing the retention of crop after harvest, and keeping the transportation of crop to a minimum. Both of these countries are developing countries with economies mostly made up of the agriculture sector.
Future Silo Implementation
We would like to model our storage solution after both of these countries and increase the number of silos and warehouses. By having the government and private non-government organizations (NGOs) prioritize storage silos and warehouses, and by implementing realistic payment strategies, we can increase the storage in developing countries. This is an element of our farmers cooperatives plan, in which we plan to encourage individual farmers to form local groups and networks. As a cooperative, farmers will purchase or construct large scale storage systems, and individuals will be offered an affordable payment plan to buy storage space.
For some countries that already have established socialistic industry, a government managed storage system might be the most successful system. However, public management has also been unsuccessful in the past. For example, in Ghana, a developing country with a large agricultural sector, the Ghana Food Distribution Company was operated by the government and successfully dried and stored grains, but lacked the budget to continue after the 1990s. After this, the sector shifted towards privatization.
Mission 2019 suggests that private farmers in the form of cooperatives will manage and share large silos and warehouses. The estimated cost for a metal silo ranges from 120-450 USD or 200 USD for a 1-ton plastic storage container (“Missing Food”, 2011). This would allow these silos to eventually be financially self-sustainable. Farmers can receive micro-loans from either NGOs or government subsidies, depending on the country’s politics or economics, to share of the cost of a communal storage system. As farmers pay off the loan, the monthly payment would be broken up into small, affordable amounts, depending on the income level of the farmer. After the government’s initial funding is repaid by farmers, the budget and finance would be completely privatized. This strategy would be started as soon as possible and the first round of loans would be repaid in the next 5-10 years. After that, new loan cycles would start, and eventually communities would have sufficient storage space for their crop or be making enough profit to buy more storage systems without outside support. The implementation of this storage plan would reduce crop loss, but the extent to which it is successful depends on many factors (such as number of farmers that follow the procedure and transportation efficiency), making it hard to estimate the money or crop quantity saved.
0- 5 years
- Distribute storage bags
- Build silos and storage warehouses with government or private funding
- Set up payment plan for farmers to collectively own storage systems in future
5- 10 years
- Continued distribution of storage bags and building of storage (or preferred new technology)
- First round of storage building leases would be paid off and farmers would own them completely
- Leases by government or private funding continue
- Low Income farmers can increasingly afford their own storage systems
- Increasing storage efficiency as technology is developed and distributed
The storage situation in developing countries is currently responsible for many inefficiencies and large scale crop loss. By using storage bags and building silos, along with solar dryers we can considerably increase the use of effective storage systems and decrease these crop losses. To get a sense of the possible impact, the World Bank (“Missing Food, 2011) estimation of 4 billion USD of annual crop loss in Africa could pay for a decade of grain aid to Sub-Saharan Africa, is about equal to the amount of grain imported to the region, or could fulfill the annual caloric intake for 48 million people (“Missing Food”, 2011). Looking at the big picture, a decrease in crop loss will increase profit for individual farmers, and decrease the regional deficit of food in developing countries. These can both contribute to our overall goal of food security.
(2011). Missing food: the case of postharvest grain losses in sub-saharan africa. World Bank. Retrieved from: http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTARD/Resources/MissingFoods10_web.pdf
(2015). One third of all food wasted! United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe. Retrieved from: http://www.unric.org/en/food-waste/27133-one-third-of-all-food-wasted
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. (2015). Social protection and agriculture: breaking the cycle of rural poverty. The State of Food and Agriculture 2015: In Brief. Retrieved from: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4953e.pdf
Rudarakanchana, Nat. (2014, March 14). World bank takes food waste seriously estimating third production wasted. International Business Times. Retrieved from: http://www.ibtimes.com/world-bank-takes-food-waste-seriously-estimating-third-production-wasted-1559247
United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. Sustainable Development: Knowledge Platform. Retrieved from: https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/post2015/transformingourworld
United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 agenda for sustainable development. General Assembly: Resolution adopted by the General Assembly on 25 September 2015. Retrieved from: http://www.un.org/ga/search/view_doc.asp?symbol=A/RES/70/1&Lang=E