Breaking News
Translate

Cassava is critical to food security in Africa – Rockefeller Foundation MD, Africa, Mamadou Biteye

Early in 2016, the Rockefeller Foundation introduced a new initiative known as Yield Wise. The  new initiative that is set to curb food wastage and spoilage was launched at the World Economic Forum (WEF) and one of the focal points is on cassava in Nigeria. It is estimated that 40 percent of cassava produced in Nigeria is lost to spoilage.

Rockefeller Foundation Managing Director, Africa, Mamadou Biteye, speaks to SOLA OGUNDIPE about the Foundation’s goal towards reducing the cassava spoilage in Nigeria. He also touches on  efforts towards reducing food waste and spoilage by half and feeding an estimated 1 billion people in Africa. Excerpts.

Because food loss and waste is an all-inclusive problem, eliminating it requires an all-inclusive solution that looks across the global food system to identify where the biggest losses occur and provide incentives for solving the problems at the root.

Mamadou Biteye
Mamadou Biteye

To do this, YieldWise, The Rockefeller Foundation’s new $130 million initiative, will work with private, public and non-profit actors involved in the food supply system to cut their food loss and waste by half. In Nigeria, the initiative is being rolled out in two value chains, one of which is roots and tubers with a focus on Cassava in Nigeria.

Roots and Tubers in Nigeria. Cassava Value Chain

Nigeria is the largest producer of Cassava in Africa however 40% spoils before consumption. To increase the shelf life of cassava, the Rockefeller Foundation is partnering with Dalberg to come up with a Cassava Challenge that seeks to lobby the public to come up with innovations that will increase the shelf life of cassava. SOLA OGUNDIPE  spoke to the Managing Director Africa, Rockefeller Foundation, Mamadou Biteye; Africa Regional Office. Excerpts:

Socioeconomic implications of Nigeria recording 40 per cent losses in cassava

Cassava is the main source of nutrition for around half of the continent’s population, or 500 million people. Further, cassava is a major source of rural income: more than half the world’s cassava, 158 million tons, is produced each year by smallholder farmers in Africa. Cassava has a short shelf life.

The primary driver of this short shelf life is the biology of the root itself. If left unprocessed, cassava spoils in 24-72 hours. Separation from the main stem through harvest causes changes to the flesh of the storage root. Blue-black and brownish lines begin to appear in the flesh in as little as 24-72 hours. Reasons for this because once harvested it goes through a process called Post-Harvest Physiological Deterioration (PPD).

Various inefficiencies and poor practices along the value chain – for example, poor handling that damages the root and also lead to quicker PPD.  Hence cassava spoils within 24- 72 hours if left processed or treated. This leads to loss of massive amounts of cassava each year.

Critical to food security

Cassava is critical to food security in Africa, acting as the main source of nutrition for approximately half of the continent’s population, or 500 million people. Further, cassava is a major source of income for rural communities: more than half the world’s cassava, an estimated 158 million tons, is produced annually by small holder farmers in Africa.

Despite the crop’s importance, massive amounts of cassava are spoiled each year. In Nigeria, the largest producer on the continent – accounting for 20 percent of all production, or 53 million tons – the problem is particularly acute.

In Nigeria alone, it is estimated that 40 percent of total cassava produce is lost due to spoilage. Put another way, almost half of the country’s output is completely wasted, leading to large foregone opportunities in farmer income and rural socioeconomic development.

Decrease in farm input: As a result, there is a decrease in farmer income and limits in rural socioeconomic development. The loss and waste has negative impacts far beyond food insecurity. Loss and waste reverberate across supply chains, where the cost of this hidden waste is still unaccounted for on corporate balance sheets. The economic development and global competitiveness of agriculture-dependent nations – and the livelihoods of farmers– suffer when crops and food exports don’t make it to market. They squander limited land and water resources, and harmful greenhouse gas emissions increase.

Long term, food loss and waste affects people, planet, and profits – from the health and livelihoods of the world’s most vulnerable people to the bottom lines of the largest multinational corporations.

Because food loss and waste is an all-inclusive problem, eliminating it requires an all-inclusive solution that looks across the global food system to identify where the biggest losses occur and provide incentives for solving the problems at the root.

Detection of spoiled food on and off the shelf and  the common health hazards of its consumption

Consumption of stale food is a health hazard, it can lead to various illnesses and can cause reduce productivity. In some cases, it can even be fatal especially where children are involved. The main reasons behind sale of stale food are lack of markets for the products, poor storage and preservation methods.

The Rockefeller Foundations’ overall goal is to promote humanity throughout the world, where our aim is to promote resilience in various aspects of life. Where food security is concerned we push for resilience in food preservation, access to market and better storage facilities to avoid the consumption of stale food.         YieldWise and relevance of the Rockefeller Foundation Initiative in tackling  wasting and spoiling of food in Africa/Nigeria

YieldWise

YieldWise is a $130 million initiative aimed at reducing food loss and waste by half by 2030 across four value chains: cassava and tomato (in Nigeria) mango (in Kenya) and maize (in Tanzania). The success of this initial phase is aimed at demonstrating what is possible in grains, roots and tubers and fruits and vegetables. We will then have a model for other value chains.

Our interventions include greater engagement of the private sector, which has so much to gain from being part of the solution. We will be partnering with companies that are major food buyers including Coca Cola and Dangote.

One-third of the world’s available food never makes it from farm to table. That’s enough food to feed all the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people on the planet. And it’s a practice that is unsustainable given that 2 billion more people are expected to live on the planet by 2050.

Missed opportunity: Food loss and waste is a large missed opportunity. Each year one-third of all food produced for human consumption—1.3 billion tons—is lost before it reaches retailers. Unfortunately, 40% of the food that does reach retailers is never eaten up but thrown away. This is enough food to feed all the 1.2 billion hungry or undernourished people on the planet. It’s an unsustainable practice given that 2 billion more people are expected to live on the planet by 2050.

Globally it has huge impacts on the economy as it reduces farmers’ income by 15 per cent, for 470 small holder farmer’s health in terms of poor nutrition and environmental since 25 per cent  of freshwater and 20 per cent  farmland is wasted on unconsumed food.

Curbing food loss: For Nigeria to be well on its way to curb food loss, we need inclusive, systemic approaches and solutions if we’re going to solve the problem for good, and achieve the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal to cut food loss and waste in half by 2030.

Nigeria is the second largest tomato producing country in Africa with production of 1.5 million metric tons per annum with an estimated demand of 2.5 million metric tons.  Unfortunately, 50 per cent  of the harvested tomatoes go bad after harvest. This mainly because of the use of raffia baskets that are piled on top of each other and the lack of cooling tracks during long distance transportation to other states like Lagos, Abuja, Ibadan and Porta Corte.

Tomato paste: Ironically Nigeria tops the list in tomato paste importation with approximately 300,000 tons worth $360 million recorded in 2015. This is why private sector players like the Dangote Farms Limited launched a processing plant with an aim of not managing post-harvest loss in tomatoes but to also create employment and build farmers economically.  Pyxera Global is the YieldWise partner in Nigeria is running the project in Kano state where various stakeholders including the state government have given their buy in.


Disclaimer

Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.