NextGen Cassava Improving Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Unhealthy cassava leaves (© CABI)

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has paired with the UK Government to award the Next Generation (NextGen) Cassava Breeding Project $35 million with the aim of promoting the growth of cassava crops and to improve food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.

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Food for thought: Cocoa farmers from Ivory Coast taste chocolate for the first time

Cocoa beans drying
Credit: Phil Taylor © CABI

In the past twenty years, the Ivory Coast has produced over 25 million tonnes of cocoa beans; far more than any other country. However, this video suggests that some cocoa farmers might never have seen the end product of the crop they spend their time cultivating. This has implications for the cocoa supply chain: if farmers don’t know what end product they are aiming for, how can they know how, or even why, they should improve quality of their produce? If there is no ‘top-down’ flow of information on the end uses of a crop, can we be sure of a ‘bottom-up’ flow of information on working conditions and pay? Working towards establishing closer relationships between the beginning and the end of the supply chain, could lead to a greater opportunity for smallholder farmers to get a fair deal.

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Why food losses are even greater than the Global Food report by IMechE says

by Daniel O’Hara

Harvested tomatoes with boll worm symptoms
Post-harvest losses are only part of the food waste problem © CABI

Yesterday saw the release of a report from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers which highlighted the shocking level of waste within the global food system.

The report, ‘Global Food – Waste not, want not’, claims 30-50% (or 1.2-2bn tonnes) of all food produced is wasted. In the context of a rapidly growing global population this amount of waste simply isn’t acceptable. The report also notes the waste that lies behind the front-line statistics. For each item of food wasted the resources which have gone towards producing it are wasted too. In a world of water shortages and energy crises this inefficiency can be devastating.

Despite its strengths, the report is limited in one respect. It fails to examine the entire food production process and does not take into account one of the biggest causes of food waste – pre-harvest crop losses. Although the report notes that “frequently poor weather conditions or attacks by pests of all types reduce the quality or quantity of crop harvested” it fails to properly account for the huge global losses which occur. Continue reading