Knowledge for Development

Relevant publications

Food waste along the food chain

This OECD paper takes stock of available data on food waste and explores policies related to food waste in OECD countries. The authors, Morvarid Bagherzadeh and colleagues, show patterns in and the scale of food waste throughout the supply chain which so far remain poorly understood, despite growing media coverage and public concerns in recent years. They argue that better understanding of these patterns could contribute to abating interlinked sustainability challenges such as food security, climate change and water shortage.    (OECD, 21/12/2014)  Download the OECD report


Unpacking postharvest losses in Sub-Saharan Africa: a meta-analysis

Knowledge of the magnitude of postharvest losses (PHL) in sub-Saharan Africa is limited. Hippolyte Affognona, of ICIPE, Nairobi, Kenya and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis to expose the nature and magnitude of PHL, and the kinds of interventions that have been attempted to mitigate the losses. Their findings reveal inadequacies of loss assessment methodologies that result in inaccurate PHL estimates. Moreover, losses are often economic rather than physical product losses. Overall, technologies for loss mitigation fail to address the dynamics of supply chains.    (World Development, 31/08/2014)


Travesty of poor refrigeration in developing countries

Around a quarter of total food wastage in developing countries could be eliminated if these countries adopted the same level of refrigeration equipment as that in developed economies according to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME), London, UK. Establishing a continuous chain of temperature-controlled cold environments from the point of harvest to the marketplace and on into the home – a ‘cold chain’ – is required. The challenge for the engineering profession is to do this in a way which minimises food wastage, is sustainable and avoids harmful emissions and air pollutants. In summary, engineers need to help establish sustainable and resilient infrastructure, fit for purpose in the local context. Two elements are important; firstly, projects need to be affordable; secondly they must be safe, reliable, easy to build, operate and maintain.   (FoodProduction, 30/06/2014)


Enhancing the timeliness and relevance of food and nutrition security information

Food and Nutrition Security Information (FNSI) is a critical tool for achieving food and nutrition security, yet FNSI efforts to date have not produced the intended  impacts on policy and programme decision making, largely due to shortcomings in available technologies and frameworks. This article by Nancy Mock and  colleagues from Tulane University reviews the evolution of FNSI efforts in the context of emerging technology and data collection techniques. A conceptual framework  is provided to describe the evolution towards an FNSI characterised by integrating conventional and novel approaches to the collection, analysis and communication  of information into a value stream that supports decision making to achieve food security.    (Global Food Security, Vol. 2 Iss. 1, 01/03/2013)   


How the future demand for food should be met

Two recent working papers by the World Resources Institute (WRI) are the first in a new series leading to the World Resources Report 2013-14: Creating a Sustainable Food Future. One paper, ‘The great balancing act’ assesses the scope of the challenge posed by the need to feed a growing population in the near-future while reducing pressure on the environment. Priorities and solutions must focus on poverty alleviation, gender, ecosystems, climate and water, it argues. Another paper, ‘Reducing food loss and waste’, explains how efforts to reduce postharvest losses and waste perform against each of the sustainable food future criteria. It offers a thorough overview of waste and loss problems and severity and it describes how changes at the level of the value chain – some still to be researched and put into practice – can create immediate benefits to society and the environment.(WRI, 01/07/2013)


Postharvest losses of dry grains in North Western Benin

The Agriculture and Food Security Network of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation has conducted a quantitative survey with 105 farmers in Benin to study the storage  techniques used for dry grains and the main problems encountered during storage. It investigates in more depth the issue of storage losses, their causes and means of improving food  conservation in the long term. 59% of the producers of dry grains interviewed reported difficulties in bridging their household needs for dry grains until the next harvest. Producers believe just  over half of the food produced by a rural household should be sufficient to prevent hunger among the rural population. Weevils (Sitophilus spp) and other insect pests are responsible for  78.5% of losses. Key issues are the poor availability of storage facilities and suitable packaging material and the lack of pest management knowledge. The document also explores  management methods the country’s extension system is promoting.(SDC Food security, 06/2013)


Creating a Sustainable Food Future: Report on reducing postharvest loss and food waste

This joint World Resources Institute (WRI) -UNEP report profiles a set of approaches to reduce food loss and waste that are particularly practical and cost-effective, that could be implemented relatively quickly, and that could achieve quick gains. Examples of approaches include: using evaporative coolers, hermetically sealed plastic storage bags for crops, and using small metal silos.(World Resources Institute, 01/06/2013)


Caribbean pineapple production and post harvest manual

This manual describes the best practices in all aspects of commercial pineapple production and post-harvest handling, utilising materials, technologies and support services that are generally available to the Caribbean farmer. The manual incorporates the principles of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) for the production and delivery of pineapple to consumers as a safe, wholesome commodity. This manual is a revision and reprint of the 2008 publication, ‘A Guide for Sustainable Production of Export Grade Pineapple in Dominica’. It provides up-to-date information on appropriate marketing strategies, the required crop management, yields and productivity programmes and post-harvest practices. and FAO, 2011)


Properties, Processing and Performance of Rare and Natural Fibres: A review and interpretation of existing research results

This report, published by the Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation of Australia (RIRDC), is about the scientific and technical information available on the quality, testing, processing and performance of rare natural animal fibres. It summarises results of Australian investment on these topics, and makes recommendations about future investment. The report is aimed at fibre producers, fibre processors, industry organisations, investment decision makers, students and researchers.(RIRDC, 10/2012)


Biofortified, selenium enriched, fruit and cladode from three Opuntia Cactus pear cultivars grown on agricultural drainage sediment for use in nutraceutical foods

Three different cultivars of drought, salt and boron tolerant Opuntia ficus indica (Cactus pear) were grown in poor-quality agricultural drainage sediment high in salt, boron and selenium that originated from the Westside San Joaquin Valley, US. Nutritional contents were then measured in these Cactus pear fruit, and vegetative cladodes compared to the same cultivars grown adjacent on a low saline sandy loam soil. After harvesting fruit and cladodes, the mineral nutrients status were analyzed. The results demonstrated positive nutritional changes in both cladodes and fruit within the Cactus pear cultivars when grown on agricultural drainage sediment compared to those grown on normal soil. Under these conditions Cactus pear plants contained nutraceutical qualities and represent a useful anticarcinogenic selenium-enriched chemotherapeutic food crop for providing advanced dietary seleno-pharmacology in order to help fight human diseases. (Thanks, 18/6/2012)


Processing manual for virgin coconut oil, its products and by-products for Pacific Island countries and territories

Similar to the goal of the FAO VCO processing manual, this manual is intended as a primary source of practical knowledge on the proper handling and processing of fresh coconuts to ensure that VCO and its by-products will be produced to meet and possibly exceed international standards. Further, it is envisioned that the manual will lead to a better understanding of coconut oil and its quality parameters so that VCO processors can easily respond to the queries of their buyers. In the preparation of the manual, images from different PICTs which were collected during the conduct of training courses are used to illustrate key points. (SPC, 2011)


Branding agricultural commodities: the development case for adding value through branding

This IIED briefing paper examines the potential for branding agricultural commodities in developing countries. It looks at how producers in these countries can exploit the same commercial marketing principles and supply chain innovations commonly used in the mature markets of the developed world. Modern food chains place increasing importance on branding, distribution and services – activities ‘downstream’ of farmers’ traditional role in supplying produce to markets. As a result, primary producers of agricultural commodities have been capturing less and less of the total value of their products. By branding commodities, producer countries and organisations can reverse this growing imbalance. Branding creates consumer demand, giving producers leverage in negotiations with major buyers. (IIED, 5/2012)


Implications of alternative mill mud management options in the Australian sugar industry

Sugar mills produce a range of by-products during the process of sugar extraction. Mill mud is one of the by-products produced in significant volume. The practice of spreading mill mud over nearby cane fields has been the primary means of disposing of mill mud for many years. The continued application of mill mud at high rates, without appropriate recognition of its nutrient content, the soil condition, crop nutrient requirements, slope and proximity of application sites to environmentally sensitive areas has raised a number of concerns in recent years, including over-fertilization, heavy metal contamination, leaching, and offsite impacts from drainage to waterways. This study (presented at the 2002 conference of the Australian Agricultural and Resource Economics Society) develops a regional mathematical programming model to determine optimal rates of mill mud application for various soil types and distances from the mill in central Queensland, Australia.


The African Journal of Food, Agriculture, Nutrition and Development (AJFAND), Volume 12, No. 3

In this issue, AJFAND presents a series of articles on food security at the household level, the steam and heat treatment for cowpea weevil control, the effects of nitrogen fertilizer rates on yield traits of durum wheat, the chemical refining of seed oils, the nutritive value of fish feed, and more.


International standards for trade in nano-coated produce?

This in-depth article from the Institute for agriculture and trade policy (IATP, US) looks at the use of nanotechnology-based food products and food packing materials in international agricultural commodity trade. It specifically focuses on the regulation of the use of agri-nanotechnology in the marketplace. The author, Dr. Steve Suppan, gives extensive overviews of recent advancement, definition debates and regulation voids, among other. For example, he explains the debate surrounding the definition and use Engineered Nanoscale Materials (ENMs). Here, an abstract: ‘The manipulation of atomic-to molecular-sized nanoparticles (NPs) has many commercially attractive properties for manufacturers of consumer and industrial products. For example, more than a decade of research on the incorporation of ENMs into packaging for food has identified a number of applications to extend the shelf-life of packaged foods, and even detect contamination of packaged food. Food nanocoatings are just one of several food packaging applications of nanotechnology in research and development.’ (IATP, 8/5/2012


Crop post harvest science and technology: Perishables

The Natural Resources Institute (UK) has compiled a book on Crop Post-Harvest Science and Technology: Perishables. Researchers and upper-level students in food science, food technology, post-harvest science and technology, crop protection, applied biology and plant and agricultural sciences will benefit from having this book in their research establishments and universities. This volume devotes itself to perishable produce, providing current and comprehensive knowledge on all the key factors affecting post-harvest quality of fruits and vegetables. It focuses explicitly on the effects and causes of deterioration, as well as the many techniques and practices implemented to maintain quality through correct handling and storage. This book follows on from two earlier publications books edited by NRI staff: Crop Post Harvest Science and Technology: Principles and Practice and Crop Post Harvest Science and Technology: Durables.


Research investments and market structure in the food processing, agricultural input and biofuel industries worldwide

K. Fuglie, et al. USDA Economic Research Report No. 147. 12/2011.Meeting growing global demand for food, fibre and biofuel requires robust investment in agricultural research and development (R&D) from both public and private sectors. This study examines global R&D spending by private industry in seven agricultural input sectors, food manufacturing, and biofuel and describes the changing structure of these industries. In 2007 (the latest year for which comprehensive estimates are available), the private sector spent $19.7 billion on food and agricultural research (56 percent in food manufacturing and 44 percent in agricultural input sectors) and accounted for about half of total public and private spending on food and agricultural R&D in high-income countries. In R&D related to biofuel, annual private-sector investments are estimated to have reached $1.47 billion worldwide by 2009. Incentives to invest in R&D are influenced by market structure and other factors. Agricultural input industries have undergone significant structural change over the past two decades, with industry concentration on the rise. A relatively small number of large, multinational firms with global R&D and marketing networks account for most R&D in each input industry. Rising market concentration has not generally been associated with increased R&D investment as a percentage of industry sales.


Capacity for knowledge-based smallholder agriculture in Ethiopia: Linking graduate programs to market-oriented agricultural development: Challenges, opportunities and IPMS experience

Lemma, T., et al. Improving Productivity and Market of Ethiopian Farmers (IPMS) Working Paper 29. 2012.Graduate Programs in agriculture and allied disciplines in Ethiopia are expected to make concrete contributions towards achieving market-led and knowledge-based transformation of smallholder agriculture. Hence, strengthening capacities of graduate programmes and attracting policy attention is crucial. This paper discusses key challenges of the graduate programmes to realize their mandates and to meet ever changing expectations. It also presents a case study linking graduate programmes through research by students to commodity value chain development and actors, and discusses qualitative and quantitative indicators of outcome in terms of enhanced research and learning experience. The paper draws out some lessons and identifies strategic and practical options that may help to improve learning and research in the graduate programmes.


Kilimanjaro and Oromia coffee value chain case studies: Producer benefits from fair trade and free market channels

Coles, C. 2011. Kilimanjaro and Oromia Coffee Value Chain Case Studies: Producer Benefits from Fair Trade and Free Market Channels. NCCR North-South Dialogue, 34. Bern, Switzerland: NCCR North-South.As part of a transversal research project exploring coffee value chains in Tanzania, Ethiopia and Kenya, this study conducted by Christopher Coles from the NCCR North-South (National Centre of Competence in Research – North-South Research Partnership for Sustainable Development) in Bern, Switzerland, traced Fair Trade and open market coffee value chains in Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania and in the Jimma Region, Ethiopia. Its objective is to identify factors that affect how intended Fair Trade benefits can be attenuated by political and social institutions at different levels in their translation into the everyday realities for coffee farmers. It compares the governance frameworks and benefit distribution among actors in both chains and makes insightful recommendations for policy changes in order to maximise returns for smallholder farmers.


Postharvest and value addition of horticultural produce – Strengthening technologies for linking farmers to market: Proceedings and recommendations, 2011

This publication is the proceedings of the expert consultation meeting held by APAARI (Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions) in collaboration with Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI) in Malaysia on 29 November – 2 December 2010. It includes details of presentations and discussion in five technical sessions, and recommendations of the meeting. Strategies and action plans proposed to address key policy, technical and management issues on postharvest and value addition of fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, herbs and medicinal plants with special reference to strengthening linkages of farmers to markets in the Asia-Pacific region are also featured. (APAARI, 8/9/2011)