Taking Stock of What’s Available to Cut Food Loss in Africa

Identifying Resources to Scale Post-Harvest Solutions Through GKI's Social Innovation Lab

How might we determine if we already have sufficient solutions to minimize post harvest food loss?

Challenge

When talking about food loss in Sub-Saharan Africa, the scope of the problem can be overwhelming.  According to the World Resources Institute and the FAO, approximately 23% of available food in Sub-Saharan Africa is lost or wasted, despite the fact that almost 25% of the sub-continent’s population is undernourished.  In a lot of instances, food loss is preventable.  Many times we already have solutions that are working.  These could be improved food storage options, or smart crop purchasing structures that connect farmers with market demand. So, if the problems are largely preventable, and many solutions already exist, what’s the disconnect?  Why does food loss in Sub-Saharan Africa remain such a persistent, enormous problem?  The challenge largely lies in scale: the solutions to food loss are not known by, or available to, enough people to make a dent in the problem as a whole.

Solution

The availability of resources (or lack thereof) is inherent to the question of achieving impact at scale.  While serving as the Social Innovation Lab for The Rockefeller Foundation’s Food Waste and Spoilage Initiative, GKI wanted to dig into the question of what it might take to scale some of the promising initiatives and solutions already being used to fight food loss.

GKI explored 26 case studies through the lens of the resources they have, and the resources they need, to reach scale.   We looked at resources of all types, including financial, technological, human, institutional, communication, and knowledge-based.  Our Resource Assessment highlighted important facts often missing from the discussion of reducing food loss: the global community is not starting from scratch; there is room to more creatively combine and amplify existing resources; new investments should be used to plug holes and catalyze multiplier effects, not duplicate efforts.

Results / Outcomes

  • Identified top 10 potential opportunities to reduce postharvest loss, informed by input from over 240 global stakeholders
  • Presented 26 case studies of initiatives or solutions making strides towards achieving big wins to reduce postharvest loss
  • Catalogued hundreds of resources in 5 categories: technological, human, institutional, collaboration, knowledge
  • Showcased the novel THICK methodology that helps clarify essential resources for innovation
  • Offered recommendations for how donors and other players could maximize resources to scale food loss solutions