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Reducing food loss: The key to sustainable development of Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.

Eliminating post-harvest food loss to create economic, environmental and social development of an entire region.

Photo of Sajjad Haider
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Written by

Lead Applicant Organization Name

UpFood IVS, Denmark

Lead Applicant Organization Type

  • Small company (under 50 employees)

If part of a multi-stakeholder entity (i.e. team), provide the names of other organizations and types of stakeholders collaborating with you.

AKRSP (Agha Khan Rural Support Program)

Website of Legally Registered Entity

www.upfood.io

How long have you / your team been working on this Vision?

  • 1-3 years

Lead Applicant: In what city or town are you located?

Copenhagen

Lead Applicant: In what country are you located?

Denmark

Your Selected Place: what’s the name of the Place you’re developing a Vision for?

Gilgit-Baltistan region (area 72971 km^2 ). Geographically part of Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region.

What country is your selected Place located in?

Pakistan

Describe your relationship to the place you’ve selected.

Like other parts of Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region, Gilgit Baltistan region faces serious challenges in socio-economic development (per capita income is 1/3 of the National level), Food and nutrition insecurity and a diminishing traditional mountain food system. Besides, we believe that a solution implemented in this region can easily be replicated in the entire Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. In 2017, 'UpFood' founder Dr. Sajjad Haider established a pilot testing Solar food drying unit in rural Punjab region of Pakistan. Several farming cooperatives from Gilgit-Baltistan regions sent small quantities of apricots to test dry ( Apricot is their main crop with 50% losses according to USAID). The pilot system produced a very high quality dried apricots that could enable the region to export to international markets like USA and EU. However, considering the region being remote, geographically dispersed crop production, lack of road infrastructure, availability of hydro-power after sunset, lack of education and training there was a need for development of a portable, automatic controlled, solar-hybrid drying system with scale-able processing capacity. UpFood has now developed the system and conducting on-field trials with farmers in Spain. Besides, Dr. Sajjad Haider is is a native of Baluchistan, another region in Pakistan which is also part of HKH region.

Describe the People and Place: Provide information that would be helpful for an outsider who has never been there and may have no context about this Place to better understand the area.

Gilgit-Baltistan is has mountainous landscape and part of Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region. Located in the north of Pakistan bordered with China and India, the region is isolated with small and dispersed population. The terrain is harsh and weather conditions variable. Only 1% of the land area is cultivated and average farm size is less than 1ha (Almost all farmers can be defined as smallholder farmers). Farming systems are subsistence oriented and agriculture being one of the main source of economy and food. Major crops include wheat, corn (maize), barley, and fruits (Majorly Apricots, cherry, mulberry and herbs). Apricots make a significant contribution to on-farm incomes. According to USAID, out of 114286 metric tons production, only 5% is consumed as fresh, 49% is dried and 46% is wasted. The majority of the harvest is dried on farm and sold through wholesalers in auction markets down-country. Time and cost of transportation of goods to and from main land cities is a big challenge. However, quality of apricots dried are generally poor and low value. Traditionally, the dried apricots have been used by local population as source of food in off-season.

What is the estimated population (current 2020) in your Place?

1800000

Challenges: Describe the current (2020) and the future (2050) challenges that your food system faces.

Environment: The global warming is also changing the climatic conditions in the region. This is impacting the traditional mountain agricultural systems and region is facing challenges like loss of water sources, soil degradation and reduced production. Economics: with losing a significant part of their harvest and poor quality of the quantities dried, the farmers are having significant economic losses both directly and indirectly. Diets: the food loss and its economic impacts make the local communities/families in region to have less quantities of naturally good quality produce and less capability of purchasing the food to meet their dietary needs. Culture: Agriculture is no more attractive, and the youth are increasingly abandoning agricultural livelihood. This is negatively affecting food production and local food systems. Technology: With literacy rate of 38%, introduction, implementation adaptation of new technologies and practices in agriculture are a challenge. Policy: creating economic growth for the weakest sections of the community + food security. Improve the overall economy.

Address the Challenges: Describe how your Vision will address the challenges described in the previous question.

Our low cost solar-hybrid drying system will enable smallholder farmers to significantly reduce their post-harvest food losses and produce a high quality dried food products at low costs. The dried products do not need any cold storage and can be stored for at least 12 months at room temperatures. Our system can dry any kind of agricultural products thus enabling the region to save and utilize most of its agricultural output. Environment: With reduction of post-harvest food losses the farmers will have more produce to sell for same amount of resources consumption like water, energy, land, fertilizer etc. Economics: Our solution creates an extra income for the farmers turning something that was before money lost into potential earnings. Additionally, the crops like Mulberry and herbs that are currently very difficult to dry using traditional methods can be dried. This will bring new business opportunities. Diet: The high-quality dried products will be a hygienic and rich source of nutrition supply. Besides, farmers will be able to purchase food to meet their nutrient requirements. Culture: Agriculture will be an attractive and profitable livelihood especially for the young generation. Technology: A novel off-grid solution for reducing post-harvest food loss using solar energy and hydro electric resources. The system can utilize solar energy in the daytime and in the nighttime, where most of the hydro-electric power produced is not used, the system will utilize this energy that otherwise is wasted. Policy: The solution will help improve management of the post-harvest food losses and governance of the food security in the region.

High Level Vision: With these challenges addressed, now provide a high level description of how the Place and the lives of its People will be different than they are now.

Saving each percentage of the post-harvest food loss will be a source of income for the farmers. It will an additional source of income. Farmers can use this income directly by buying better machinery, seeds, fertilizers etc or indirectly by not having the need of buying food. The dried products will acquire less weight, volume and be safely transported to main land markets which are far away from the region. Besides the high quality of the products will give more value of the same quantity of the dried products and will create a long term demand from the market. The overall impact will be in the form of sustainable growth of the people and the region at all levels and in every aspect.

Full Vision: How do you describe your Vision for a regenerative and nourishing food future for your Place and People for 2050?

When farmers in the region will have additional income, they will invest their income in multiple ways like, better food, machinery, health of their family, education of their family. This investment will turn the local dying economies into vibrant rural economies that will create new jobs and other opportunities for all sectors. These rural economies will then produce economic opportunities for the larger urban economies which in turn will lift the economy of the given country and eventually the world.

How did you hear about the Food System Vision Prize?

  • Website

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