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USDA’s Overseas Agricultural Provider Assists International Endeavours to Minimize Food Loss and Squander: An Job interview with Paige Cowie

Posted by Jean Buzby, USDA Foods Loss and Waste Liaison in

Foodstuff and Nutrition

Mar 22, 2021

Vegetables thrown into a landfill, rotting outdoors
Vegetables thrown into a landfill, rotting outdoor. Credit rating: USDA (inventory photography)

The U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA) International Agricultural Company (FAS) backlinks U.S. agriculture to the world to enrich export prospects and international meals protection. Globally, food stuff squander is believed at 1.6 billion tonnes and occurs from lots of brings about from farm to desk. In producing nations around the world, these leads to involve deficiency of chilly-chain storage (refrigeration and freezing, for instance), inadequate-article harvest managing strategies, and lack of obtain to marketplaces. What is FAS performing to assistance minimize foods decline and waste? This job interview features insights from Paige Cowie, Resilient Agriculture Plan Supervisor, USDA Foreign Agricultural Support.

Buzby: For these who really do not know substantially about USDA Foreign Agricultural Service, can you please share a little bit about why FAS is perfectly positioned to do foodstuff decline and squander outreach internationally?

Cowie: In addition to its headquarters workers in Washington D.C., USDA’s Overseas Agricultural Support has a global community of 98 places of work masking 177 countries that provide to represent U.S. agricultural trade passions. FAS engages on guidelines and applications on a broad assortment of challenges connected to the agri-food items sector and foods methods. We administer USDA’s intercontinental food help and international fellowship trade packages and apply ability making jobs by drawing on the abilities residing inside USDA complex agencies, land grant universities, U.S. producers and agri-business pros, and other folks. We also coordinate USDA’s involvement in the U.S. Government’s World Food stuff Safety Tactic (“Feed the Long run”), which back links us to the agricultural advancement attempts of the U.S. Company for Worldwide Growth (USAID) and the diplomatic efforts of the U.S. Condition Section.

FAS also prospects on behalf of USDA in the negotiation of regional and bilateral trade and investment decision agreements which offer you a crucial system for maximizing the performance of environmental cooperation in between parties, like on initiatives to sustainably take care of pure sources, these as by addressing foods decline and squander. We also interact with worldwide businesses on shared priorities, this kind of as pursuing the growth of science-primarily based metrics, tips, and tips for food items reduction and squander reduction.

Minimizing foods loss and waste was identified as one particular of the targets (12.3) of the United Nations Sustainable Enhancement Ambitions. An approximated just one-3rd of all food items produced throughout the world is hardly ever essentially eaten due to meals reduction and waste issues food stuff loss and squander is liable for hundreds of billions of dollars each year in economic losses and is also a substantial contributor to world-wide greenhouse gasoline emissions. FAS is effectively-positioned to help international meals producers and shoppers in aiding to deal with these expanding worries.

Buzby: In normal, how does FAS deliver meals reduction and waste outreach internationally?

Cowie: Most of our food items loss and waste work with other nations is supported by our interagency agreements with USAID. Underneath these agreements, FAS implements foodstuff reduction and squander outreach things to do that includes skills from other USDA companies, U.S. land grant universities, global study companies, and personal sector organizations.

Buzby: When pondering about the overall farm-to-desk foodstuff supply chain, where by do FAS plans mainly help lower foods decline and waste?

Cowie: Most of our initiatives and courses take spot in minimal- and small-to-center income nations around the world in Africa, Latin The united states and the Caribbean, and Asia. In standard, food loss and squander in these nations is mostly an situation of publish-harvest reduction instead than consumer foods squander, which is far more of an problem in higher revenue international locations, like the United States. At the exact time, our initiatives search for to tackle sustainability challenges like climate modify and agricultural resilience, as they arise in any part of the meals procedure. For instance, FAS funded a analyze examining the meals reduction and waste-relevant difficulties confronted by the Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA), together with lower and unequal capacities in high quality management and generation tactics, minimal develop good quality and protection assurance, inadequate money providers, and unreliable transport and electric power materials.

Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) charcoal cooler
Tanzania Horticultural Affiliation (TAHA) charcoal cooler. Image credit: Anthony Chamanga, TAHA

Immediately after performing with TAHA on addressing tips from the examine, the farmers (many of whom are females) documented their food items losses becoming reduced by around 50 percent, which was an extraordinary result. The major motives for this lessen was the adoption of minimal-expense methods these kinds of as display screen properties that safeguard deliver from pests, and charcoal coolers, which average temperatures, preserve produce, and enable with foodstuff safety during storage. We also engage with other international locations to deal with this widespread need to have to create cold chain infrastructure and viable business products.

Tanzania Horticultural Association (TAHA) screenhouse
Tanzania Horticultural Affiliation (TAHA) screenhouse. Photograph credit score: Anthony Chamanga, TAHA

These initiatives have a number of added benefits: they handle food stuff loss and waste difficulties assistance countries improve their output efficiencies, food stuff stability aims, and local weather-good agricultural techniques and, develop options for provide chain actors to interact with marketplaces at the nearby, regional, and global concentrations. Chilly chain infrastructure will help countries to be superior equipped to export and import food products needing refrigeration, consequently enabling two-way trade.

The DehyTray
The DehyTray is a transportable solar dehydrator gadget. Image credit history: Harold Tarver, USDA Task Supervisor

Another FAS project in Nigeria trained community college college and users of the private sector, these kinds of as business people, cooperatives, and nearby firms in easily adoptable postharvest loss reduction systems and behaviors. Not only did this venture permit larger portions of harvests to be preserved for industry and consumption, but the initiatives also aided make improvements to the basic safety and efficiency of pesticide storage methods. For illustration, the Dehytray is a new engineering launched by the challenge to support producers continue to keep harvests clean although drying. Existing hermetic storage systems, this kind of as the Vestergaard Zero Fly luggage and Perdue Photos airtight baggage ended up also released and promoted. Additionally, a very low-price dampness meter, based on USDA study and now created in Ghana, was released. The FAS venture in Nigeria also provided coaching in a no-price follow for lowering postharvest losses called DICE – Dry, Inspect, Clear, Study. This is an Built-in Pest Management system for grain warehouses that could be utilized in households as properly.

A DehyTray demonstration at a postharvest loss reduction training in Minna, Nigeria
A DehyTray demonstration at a postharvest decline reduction coaching in Minna, Nigeria, July 2019. Picture credit rating: Harold Tarver, USDA Venture Supervisor

Buzby: What are some examples of FAS assignments aimed at lowering food stuff reduction and squander?

Cowie: In East Africa, USDA assignments are supporting the adoption of an innovative bio-management merchandise, AflaSafe, which was codeveloped by way of a collaboration involving the USDA Agricultural Research Company and the Global Institute of Tropical Agriculture. AflaSafe substantially cuts down common mildew contamination in grains like corn and several other crops like peanuts and peppers that deliver compounds called aflatoxins that are toxic to people (1 out 3 conditions of liver most cancers in Africa is attributed ingestion of aflatoxins). Thus, foods reduction and squander improvements like AflaSafe, which are also currently being tailored in Pakistan, can also have critical roles for human well being. Sharing these innovations also allows other international locations use science-primarily based techniques and guidelines to retain foods harmless and reduce foods waste.

As another example, USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Provider collaborated with USAID to fund investigate on the use of managed atmosphere (CA) know-how that is helping farmers in India increase the storage daily life of particular fruits and greens by regulating oxygen and carbon dioxide ranges as well as temperature and humidity controls in just the storage device. This technologies will make it probable to preserve unique cultivars of apples for 9-12 months when compared to 3-6 months with ordinary refrigerated storage. Other much less high-priced and extra obtainable technologies also exist, such as CoolBot, which is a unit that can be used transform any space into a big refrigerator. This technological know-how is currently in use in Rwandan markets to protect fresh produce.

Buzby: People are wonderful illustrations of the adoption of innovations. I fully grasp your group is working on assets to assist with engineering transfer — sharing used study with farmers and ag producers all-around the globe. I also fully grasp your team is supporting create sources for corporations that are acquiring worth chains (i.e. all the pursuits a business usually takes to create a useful product or service). Notify us far more.

Cowie: Of course, supporting the development of specialized guides is a prevalent follow in FAS assignments. For instance, FAS is funding the progress of a benefit-chain collection information for educating stakeholders, including system designers and implementers, on how to identify and pick out crops to goal for meals decline and squander reduction, and how to integrate food items loss and squander arranging in early task layout phases. The guide delivers suggestions and metrics and indicators for weighing priorities from a number of conditions together with meals decline, meals squander, economic outcomes, foods stability and nutrition, local weather vulnerability, carbon footprint, drinking water footprint, land footprint, wildlife and biodiversity, gender, youth and socially excluded and marginalized communities, and expense prospects.

FAS is also supporting analysis on insect rearing on foods waste to ascertain if this is an effective approach for lessening greenhouse gasoline (GHG) emissions from squander (like methane gasoline from landfills, for example). This could be a viable resolution for repurposing meals squander to grow insects as protein for foodstuff or feed. Study in this discipline has been growing desire in new a long time, in particular in relation to sustainable food stuff programs and mechanisms for cutting down GHG emissions from the agriculture sector and meals that goes squandered in landfills.

Small bin of fig beetle (Cotinis mutabilis) larvae being reared on composted food waste
Little bin of fig beetle (Cotinis mutabilis) larvae getting reared on composted food squander. This investigation was led by the University of Arizona in 2020. Photo credit history: Hunter Clark

Buzby: What are the subsequent measures for FAS for this value-chain choice guide, and is it distinct for a distinct nation?

Cowie: The overarching intention for the worth-chain selection guidebook is to really encourage firms to set food stuff decline and squander in their challenge layouts, fairly than involve it as an afterthought. The manual is not specific for any place but relatively presents a methodology that can be applied to any nation or benefit-chain context.

Buzby: Supplied an expanding emphasis on sustainability and food stuff units these days, do you have any added examples of your meals decline and waste pursuits that also have favourable impacts on the setting?

Cowie: Of course, a different case in point consists of assist for research into the mitigation of foods loss and squander relevant to deforestation in Cameroon and Nigeria owing to the enlargement of palm oil cultivation. In Cameroon, for example, domestic desire for palm oil is large and frequently expanding. In the final several many years, oil palm tree spot growth by smallholders has been the main bring about of deforestation in the place. For oil extraction, manual mills are most normally utilized by smallholder farmers, staying a less high priced possibility more than industrial mills. Nonetheless, handbook mills have a lower oil extraction rate of 12%, when compared to 21% for industrial mills. This investigation observed that fostering financial investment in enhanced processing technologies is critical to increasing accessibility to sustainable palm oil creation, enhanced effectiveness, and lessened deforestation.

Buzby: All of these examples are excellent. Thank you so a lot.

For even further reading through:
USDA blogs on the topic of food stuff squander

Read about USDA-supported analysis and webinars on meals reduction and squander at Local weather Inbound links, a global know-how portal for United States Agency for Global Enhancement (USAID) staff members, companions, and the broader neighborhood doing the job at the intersection of local weather change and worldwide advancement.

Food Reduction and Squander Worth Chain Collection Information
Minimizing Foods Loss and Squander in the Palm Oil Sector Can Direct to Decreased Deforestation in Cameroon
Chilly Storage Enterprise Styles from Producing Nations around the world
Growth of Tanzania’s Horticulture Sector: Role of TAHA – An Apex Private Sector Member-Centered Business

Integrating Food Decline and Squander Lens into Value Range Workshop
Smooth Start: Meals Reduction and Squander Value Chain Choice Guideline

This blog sequence highlights the do the job of innovators in the foods loss and waste earth as aspect of a Federal interagency food stuff decline and waste collaboration involving USDA, EPA, and Fda and non-public-sector partners to affirm their shared determination to function towards the nationwide objective of cutting down foodstuff reduction and squander by 50 % by 2030.

Foodstuff and Diet

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