Market-based approaches for postharvest loss reduction
Adebola, Olufunke T.
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Do farmers in contract farming (CF) arrangements have lower levels of postharvest losses than do farmers who do not participate in contract farming? Does our current understanding of postharvest losses overlook other critical causes of loss? According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), about 1.3 billion tons of food, representing nearly one-third of annual global food production, is lost or wasted before it reaches the final consumer. In Africa, 18 percent of cereals is lost postharvest. Technologies have traditionally been deployed towards reducing these losses. However, the success of technology solutions has been inconclusive in Africa. In light of this, market-led approaches to reducing losses are becoming mainstream in the postharvest loss literature. The research finds that farmers who participated in formal contract farming schemes experienced lower postharvest loss than farmers who did not. However, farmers participating in informal contracting schemes suffered more significant postharvest loss than did farmers in formal schemes or no schemes at all. The research also finds that while contract farming is an effective market-based policy for increasing food production and reducing losses, several institutional and cultural factors can hinder the communities from maximizing the potential benefits of contract farming. It also finds that the current understanding of postharvest loss is limited because the issue has been approached at the macro-level. To improve our knowledge and governance of postharvest losses, researchers must move from the macro-theoretical level to consider the micro-practical level and examine other unanswered, ignored, and unaccounted-for social and policy issues that drive postharvest losses.