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New study on environmental impact of post-harvest losses
The study ‘Post-Harvest Losses of Rice in Nigeria and their Ecological Footprint’ presents an analysis of food losses in the harvesting, processing and marketing stages in Nigeria, and identifies their ecological footprint.
According to the study, the main hotspots for post-harvest losses are harvesting and parboiling followed by losses occurring during milling. The final results show an estimated post-harvest loss of 24.9 per cent, resulting in a substantial loss of revenue for farmers. The yields from 19 per cent of the area cultivated with rice are wasted through post-harvest losses. Looking at the entire global warming potential along the complete rice value chain, a large environmental footprint becomes apparent: the losses in the rice value chain account for the emissions of around 0.65 million tonnes of CO2 eq. into the atmosphere. The industrial value chain shows a 20 per cent lower global warming potential than the traditional value chain, due to lower losses along the value chain.
Two other options for improvement were also calculated. The Comparative African Rice Initiative (CARI) promotes an increase in productivity, technology transfer for post-harvest activities and capacity building. This “future best” scenario can potentially lead to higher yields, lower losses and reduced greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of final product. Another specific approach to reduce the environmental impact of the traditional rice value chain is micro-gasification using rice husk as fuel for the parboiling process: timber wood can be saved and (toxic) emissions reduced.
A reduction of food losses will therefore not only benefit farmers’ income and improve food security, it will also lead to strong environmental benefits at various national levels and in a range of impact areas. Along with improving environmental performance, investing in getting more of the final product in better quality to the consumer is vital to ensure a higher food and nutrition security.
The study was commissioned by Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), special unit “One World – No Hunger”. Authors: Oguntade, A. E., Thylmann, D., Deimling, S.
Rural 21 Special issue on food losses