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Experts Discuss Post Harvest Losses as World Population Grows

In its 2012 African Human Development report, the United Nations Development Programme said sub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of hunger in the world.

The report encouraged African countries to boost agricultural production in a bid to reduce extreme poverty in the region.

On the other hand in the same region, about $4 billion worth of grain is lost every year due to post harvest losses, a problem affecting many countries worldwide.

“This is more than the total value of food aid sent to the region over the last decade, and $4 billion worth of grain could feed at least 48 million people,” said assistant secretary Jose W. Fernandez of the Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs.

“Digging down into these numbers reveals further complications. Food is lost along every step along the food production chain from harvest and handling to storage and processing to packing and transportation.”

Assistant secretary Fernandez was speaking Tuesday at a meeting at the State Department in Washington D.C. to discuss food security and minimizing post-harvest losses.

He said food loses along the food production chain are affecting farmers in developing countries.

“As everyone here already knows, feeding the world is only getting harder,” said Mr. Fernandez.

By the year 2050, the world population is expected to reach nine billion people. In looking at how to meet this challenge, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), estimates global demand for food will increase by 60 percent.

Mr. Fernandez said meetings such as Tuesday’s conference, bringing together diplomats and food experts, help in bringing the world together to find a solution on how to deal with food security the world over using new technologies and other methods.

“As I said at the outset, we are all in this together. We have invited government, civil society, NGOs to work on this,” said Mr. Fernandez.

Participants discussed, among other issues, the role of the private sector in addressing post-harvest loss.
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