Diverse stakeholders in the food supply chain are among 500 participants expected in Nairobi for the first ever Africa-wide conference on post-harvest management. The 1st All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition will be hosted by the University of Nairobi in partnership with a consortium of Kenyan universities, Research and Development Organizations, the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries in conjunction with the World Food Preservation Center (WFPC). It will be held at the Safari Park Hotel, Nairobi on 28th to 31st March 2017.
The Congress, whose theme is “Reducing Food Losses and Waste: Sustainable Solutions for Africa”, seeks to contribute to the global agenda of reducing postharvest food loss and waste. It seeks to define actionable solutions to reverse the current trend where an estimated 30 per cent or 1.3 billion metric tons of food produced for human consumption is lost or wasted along the supply chains. These losses result in at least 15% lost income for over 470 million actors across the agriculture value chain and the Congress will provide an opportunity to respond to the calls for action outlined in United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Malabo Declaration (2014) which have set a target of halving postharvest losses by 2030 and 2025 respectively.
“We are honored to host this inaugural Congress, the first of its kind to be held in Africa. The Congress will provide a platform for delegates to learn, share information and build strategic partnerships with the overall objective of identifying effective interventions to reduce food loss waste on the continent,” says University of Nairobi Vice Chancellor, Prof. Peter Mbithi. “This historic gathering is very timely because like many other countries in Africa, Kenya continues to experience huge food loss and waste as a result of poor post-harvest management practices.”
He adds: “To reduce food waste and loss in Africa there is need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders in the food supply chain and this Congress provides a great convergence point for players in the industry including leading global champions in the food supply chain including farmers, innovators, entrepreneurs, researchers, development agencies, civil society and policymakers.”
The lead strategic partner in this great initiative is the Rockefeller Foundation. The initiative is also supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), African Union Commission, Alliance for Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), East African Grain Council (EAGC), East Africa Trade and Investment Hub (USAID), Postharvest Education Foundation, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, Horticulture Innovation Lab (USAID), Netherlands Development Organization (SNV), Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) among others.
A key highlight of the Congress will be the inaugural “All-Africa Postharvest Technology Challenge 2017” which aims at identifying top ten scalable innovations and technologies in the continent. The competition seeks to identify technologies and innovations that can address the challenges faced by farmers and other value chain actors in postharvest management of perishable food crop, livestock, fish products and non-perishable food commodities. The competition will be judged by a panel of eminent judges from across Africa.
The Chairperson of the Organizing Committee Dr. Jane Ambuko said that the competition was expected to help document hitherto unknown postharvest technologies and innovations. “Through this competition, we seek to identify the top 10 innovators in the postharvest field,” she said. “After rigorous screening by postharvest experts, we will be show-case the winning innovations at a special pitching session of the Congress,”
“We hope that this exciting and unique competition will attract participation from everyone regardless of the sector or level of training,” Dr. Ambuko added. “We are expecting entries from a cross-section of innovators including farmers and other practitioners in the food supply chain because they have innovative ways of addressing the challenges they face at the grassroot level.”