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East African Community courts technology to address post harvest grain losses

With about one third of the food produced on the continent lost along the value chain, East African agricultural sector stakeholders want to harness technological innovations in order to reduce post-harvest losses.

James Shikwati, the chief executive officer of the Inter-Region Economic Network, said the initiative would help improve produce handling, cut waste, and ensure food safety and security. “Such innovations will make it easy to improve post-harvest management of perishable foodstuffs, livestock and fish products, as well as non-perishable food commodities, including grains, and cereals,” he said.

Shikwati was speaking during the launch of the East Africa Postharvest Technology Challenge 2017. The competition seeks to identify 10 scalable innovations and technologies that address challenges in postharvest management of perishable commodities, livestock and fish products, and non-perishable produce, including grains, cereals, and pulses from the East Africa Community (EAC).

Shikwati said the challenge is part of an upcoming All Africa Postharvest Congress and Exhibition scheduled for March 28-31, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The event to be held under the theme, ‘Reducing Food Losses and Waste: Sustainable Solutions for Africa,’ is expected to attract over 400 participants from across East Africa, including Rwanda.

Young innovators from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Burundi can participate in the contest whose three top contestants pocket $30,000 in seed funding, Shikwati said. “We are delighted to host this exciting new challenge and would like to invite all post-harvest technology innovators from the region to participate in this game-changing competition,” . The competition will help identify a range of technologies that have the potential to help the continent confront and counter the huge challenges in post-harvest management.

About 30 per cent of the food produced in Africa is lost along the supply chain. “Therefore, through such competitions we can get solutions that will help us reduce the losses,” Lillian Uwintwali, the chief executive officer of M-Ahwiii Ltd and an IT consultant in Kigali, said. Uwintwali said over 1.3 billion tonnes of the total food produced globally is lost. This accounts for almost 15 per cent lost income for over 470 million actors across the agriculture value chain, including smallholder farmers, retailers and processors.


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