Purdue researchers work to improve food waste in Africa

May 27, 2014

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 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 Purdue President Mitch Daniels.

Nine researchers from Purdue’s College of Agriculture 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 fork.

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 since most postharvest activities in sub-Saharan Africa are performed by women.
  • Establish and strengthen public-private partnerships to promote and adopt innovations in technology to reduce postharvest food loss.

“It 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,” said Betty Bugusu, Project Director and Managing Director of the International Food Technology Center at Purdue.

Press release