Purdue University researchers will lead a $5
million, five-year effort to help countries in sub-Saharan Africa reduce
hunger and poverty fueled by food waste.
By improving processing and marketing of key
crops, those in developing countries can make better use of food that
already is being produced but is simply lost through poor storage or
processing technologies and management practices.
The Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food
Processing and Post-Harvest Handling was announced by United States
Agency for International Development administrator Rajiv Shah on
Thursday (May 22) at the Chicago Council's Global Food Security
Symposium. It is funded by Feed the Future, the U.S. government's Global
Hunger and Food Security Initiative led by USAID.
"This award from Feed the Future will enable
Purdue to help smallholder farmers make available not only more food in a
region of the world where it is greatly needed but also more nutritious
food," said university President Mitch Daniels.
Nine researchers from Purdue's College of
Agriculture (including Betty Bugusu, Bruce Hamaker, Suzanne Nielsen, and Mario Ferruzzi from Food Science) and 11 from other universities in the United States and
Africa will conduct research that will support and strengthen crops'
"value chain," the process by which crops go from farm to market to
Objectives of the research are to:
* Improve drying and storage of cereal grains
(corn, rice, sorghum and millet) and grain legumes (cowpea, soybean and
peanut) in the humid tropics of Africa, specifically Kenya and Senegal.
* Increase commercialization of crops and improve nutrition.
* Strengthen institutional and human capacities
along the value chain, with emphasis on gender-sensitive approaches as
most postharvest activities in sub-Saharan Africa are performed by
* Establish and strengthen public-private
partnerships to promote and adopt innovations in technology to reduce
postharvest food loss.
Experts say food production will need to double
by 2050, when the world's population is expected to increase to 9
billion people from 7 billion today. While current efforts mainly
involve increasing production to meet the growing demand, this Feed the
Future Innovation Lab focuses on reducing food losses along the value
chain, said Betty Bugusu, project director and managing director of the International Food Technology Center at Purdue. The Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations estimates such losses at one-third of all food
produced worldwide, with losses prevalent in developing countries.
is essential to recognize that food security does not end at harvest,
since a significant amount of the food produced in developing countries
is lost due to poor postharvest handling techniques and limited market
opportunities," Bugusu said.
The research will build on Purdue's and
collaborators' record of research and development in postharvest
commodity activities leading to improved market access for smallholder
farmers. Key results from past work include the Purdue Improved Crop
Storage technologies, or PICS, that reduce losses from insect damage,
and research to disseminate food processing technologies to rural and
The researchers also have expertise in drying
technologies to decrease grain loss from mold and in processing grain to
generate market-competitive products with enhanced nutrition.
The project also aims to help develop markets for
smallholder farmers, thereby providing more food while also improving
their livelihoods, said James "Jess" Lowenberg-DeBoer, associate dean of Purdue's College of Agriculture and director of its International Programs in Agriculture.
Farming in sub-Saharan countries is mostly centered on smallholder
farmers producing food for their families. About 90 percent of them own
farms of about two hectares - slightly less than five acres.
"It is seldom viewed as a business," he said. "A
viable and sustainable agriculture revolution that works for farmers,
businesses and the environment in developing countries must involve
development of a thriving and profitable market-driven food sector to
expand market access for farmers and reduce food losses."
About Feed the Future:
Feed the Future is the U.S. government's global
hunger and food security initiative. With a focus on smallholder
farmers, particularly women, Feed the Future supports partner countries
in developing their agriculture sectors to spur economic growth and
trade that increase incomes and reduce hunger, poverty and
undernutrition. More information is available at http://www.feedthefuture.gov.
Writer: Keith Robinson, 765-494-2722, firstname.lastname@example.org
Sources: Mitch Daniels, email@example.com
Betty Bugusu, 765-494-3626, firstname.lastname@example.org
James "Jess" Lowenberg-DeBoer, 765-494-6876
Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, email@example.com
Agriculture News Page