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The BecA-ILRI Hub at conference to increase food availability by reducing postharvest loss

28-31 March 2017—The BecA-ILRI Hub participated in the 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition held at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya.

According to the United Nations, the world population will reach the nine billion by 2050 with Africa’s population accounting for almost 30 percent. Meeting the food and nutrition needs of this growing population requires 70 percent increase in food availability. Approximately 1.3 billion metric tons of food produced annually is (one third of the production) is lost along the supply chains globally. Thus the reduction of food losses and waste is an important strategy to mitigate the shortfall in food availability.

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Jane Ambuko, a lecturer at the University of Nairobi and an alumnus of the BecA-ILRI Hub’s Africa Biosciences Challenge Fund (ABCF) capacity building program, championed the convening of the conference as the local organizing committee. The BecA-ILRI Hub plays a key role in strengthening the research capacity of individuals and institutions in African national agricultural research systems (NARS) through the ABCF program. Forty researchers are nominated annually by the NARS to conduct research at the BecA-ILRI Hub through fellowships, while over 200 benefit from training offered through workshops in key skill areas.

According to BecA-ILRI Hub scientist Sita Ghimire, NARS are not investing enough in postharvest research. ‘Out of 600 applications to the ABCF fellowship program, only about 30 focus on postharvest management issues’ he said. 

Ghimire was made this disclosure as a panelist in discussions on the role of capacity development in research on reduction of postharvest food losses and waste. Other panelists supported his view, calling for more attention to be given to curriculum on postharvest waste management in institutions of higher learning.

‘Universities need to institutionalize postharvest research rather than have it embedded in time-bound projects,’ said Paul Nampala, the grants manager at the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM) secretariat.

The conference featured the Postharvest Technologies Challenge (PTC) for innovators from all over Africa to share new technologies and ideas developed within the African context.

 

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