Globally, food waste happens through the entire supply chain from the farm level up to the consumer level, and roughly one-third of the edible parts of food produced for human consumption, gets lost or is wasted. According to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), that is about 1.3 billion tonnes per year. Basing on FAO facts on food loss and wastes reported that, in industrialised countries food waste (222 million tonnes) is almost as high as the total net food production in sub-Saharan Africa (230 million tonnes).
Moreover, in sub-Saharan Africa; food loss per capita is estimated at 120-170 kg/year, and about 40% of the losses occur at post-harvest and processing levels while in industrialized countries more than 40% of losses happen at retail and consumer levels.
This food loss and wastes challenge the lives of small scale farmers together with his/her families (wife, husband and children) because high levels of food losses contribute to childhood malnutrition and the chronic issue of vitamin deficiencies among poor households. In addition, small scale farmers often receive low prices for the foods they produce, since marketing intermediaries know that the foods they purchase from growers will lose a lot of volume and value before they can be sold to consumers. Most small farmers use a price taker marketing strategy, whereby they grow a commodity and offer it for sale to a buyer who comes to the farm gate, or if it is possible for them to transport produce to market, to the highest wholesale bidder in the marketplace on the day of harvest. This marketing strategy means that they receive low prices because their produce is often available at the same time as that of other local farmers, leading to gluts of certain types of fresh produce in the marketplace.
Basing on Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) 2013, Food wastage footprint report, that aired out the causes of this food loss, which are predominantly poor practices in harvesting, careless handling of produce, lack of storage or poor storage conditions and transportation. This loss for farmers means that , they are losing land, labor, water, fertilizer and income. Moreover, the lost food also deprives farmers the opportunity to grow and strengthen their businesses.
In evidencing those causes of food loss in Africa, We may refer Nigeria and Ghana, whereby Nigeria that is ranked 16th on the global tomato production scale, accounting for 1.2% of the total world production of tomatoes but still has an alarming 45% loss of tomatoes harvested due to Poor Food Supply Chain (FSC) management. Even, Ghana beside of its grain sector being endowed with more reliable modern storage technologies but is still facing a post-harvest losses of up to 50%, and this loss was justified was due to the lack of adequate knowledge( lack of proper training) and implementation of sound grain storage management.
Due to the above justified causes herein, which are cross-cutting causes across African Continent , I have come out with the idea of initiating a Food rescue Program from the farm to the mouth in need that would link farmers and others ( processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers) who have unsold food which would otherwise be discarded, to people and charities who need food, and build capacity through education and training to all actors along the food chain in the transfer of existing technologies and the spread of good practice allied to market-led investment as the only cost effective program in reducing food losses and waste across the Food Supply Chain in the developing country like Tanzania.
The ideology of the Food rescue Program from the farm to the mouth in need has borrowed a lot of inputs from City Harvest food rescue organization that had been operating in New York for more than 30 years and has being successful since its inauguration.
Therefore, Our Food rescue program would partner with donors (farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, and other food sellers) and residents, charities that offer service to the people in need to ensure there is a win-win agreement on both sides.
Food rescue and Delivery Mechanism as well as its Education will be as follow:
- The food Rescue and Delivery Mechanism
The program would use refrigerated trucks that would run seven days (7) in week to collects excess food from our ‘’established centers” in the region that would otherwise go to waste from all segments of the food supply chain. In Addition to that, we are expecting to own a warehouse equipped with large cooler and freezer to safely hold perishable food until it is loaded onto our trucks and a large dry storage area to stock non-perishable goods. Then after loading, within 24 hours, the trucks deliver this food to our community agency recipients in Dar es salaam, where it is transformed into hot meals ready for the people in need.
What will make us unique is that we will primarily deal with perishable food – fruits, vegetables, dairy products, frozen foods, bread and meats – we will not purchase food, and we will divert it from needless waste. Apart from that, we will use Local Health Authority to prove the food and crops, if would still be good, healthy and edible, intact in all its nutritious components and therefore good to be consumed without health-related risks.
2. Provision of Education and Training on Managing Food loss and Wastes along the food supply chain and Information on Nutrition and Healthy.
- Each year, the program would select only one crop and focus along its value chain by identifying all stakeholders (farmers, processing centers, grocery stores, food traders and marketers) who will be directly provided with information, demonstrations and education in Swahili languages. And we would provide long-term, intensive training for more than 30 people from various stages along the food value chain with the use of Swahili written training manual and fieldwork assignments to make sure our trainees gain practical, hands-on experience.
- Also, the program would launch a Mobile Phone-based Platform that would help Tanzanian Small Scale farmers to forecast demand of crops across various market by updating them with stock available at respective market and their respectively price, also would provide information on food loss facts, waste facts and reduction tips as part of the education provision as well as information on nutrition and health.