Saturday, September 20, 2014

Reducing Post Harvest Losses and Wastes in Asia Pacific

Wayne Chen

        APEC has been working intensively on advancing food security for the Asia Pacific region since 2010 when Japan hosted the first APEC Food Security Ministerial Meeting in Niigata followed by the 2nd ministerial meeting was held in Kazan in 2012 and the 3rd one in Beijing in 2014. Last year, APEC Policy Partnership on Food Security (PPFS) launched the APEC Food Security Road Map towards 2020 which serves as a primary guideline to concert efforts of all APEC economies for achieving regional food security, particularly in providing access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food for all people at all times.

        In 2014, PPFS drafted 4 important documents, namely the APEC Action Plan for Reducing Food Loss and Waste [1]; the APEC Food Security Business Plan (2014-2020) [2]; the APEC Food Security Roadmap toward 2020 (2014 version) [3], and; the Action Plan to Enhance Connectivity of APEC Food Standards and Safety Assurance [4] to depict APEC food security tasks in a more concrete and comprehensive manner. According to the PPFS Inputs for the Leaders' Declaration [5] tabled at the third Senior Officials in August, 4 priority areas were identified crucial for APEC economies to cooperate on improving capacity building, technology utilization and communications. First is to promote policy talks on food security; secondly, to reduce food post-harvest loss and waste; thirdly, to facilitate agricultural and food trade, and; to increase connectivity of food security partnership.

        Compared to the Niigata Declaration (2010), Kazan Declaration (2012) and the Food Security Road Map 2020, reducing food post-harvest loss and waste was newly added and recognized as one first-tier work for the first time. In addition, a quantitative goal was established in the Action Plan that ''APEC economies will strive to food loss and waste by 10% compared with the 2011-2012 levels by 2020 in the Asia-Pacific economies''. These developments illustrate that post-harvest food loss and waste is obtaining more interests and attention upon which APEC economies are carrying out more capacity building activities and cooperation. To investigate the reasons why reducing post-harvest food loss and waste is effective to promote food security, this essay illustrate current situation of food loss and waste before introducing the Strengthening Public-Private Partnership to Reduce Food Losses 5-year project proposed by Taiwan in APEC PPFS.

        According to UN's research for the Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction, approximately one third of the food produced, equal to 1.3 billion tons, in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted. In industrialized countries, food loss and waste amounts to US$ 680 billion and US$ 310 billion in developing countries. By products, 30% for cereals, 40-50% for root crops, fruits and vegetables, 20% for oil seeds, meat and dairy plus 30% for fish lost per year. Such amount is equivalent to more than half of the world's annual cereals crop in 2009/2010 [6].

        On the other hand, the population in the APEC region accounts for 40% of world population and 50% of global cereal production and almost 70% of fish production. According to the research conducted by the UN Industrial Development Organization, post-harvest losses in Asia alone are estimated at 30% of global food production annually, valued at $5 billion, and the number of food losses in the Asia-Pacific region is expected to be higher [7]. In light of the increasing importance of food security in APEC's agenda, efforts should be made to improve production integrated with postharvest management for effective increase of food availability. Moreover, enhancing postharvest management is essential given that food lost reduction is generally less costly than equivalent increase in food production and therefore reveals a unique niche where APEC can assist economies to build up their capacity for regional food security.

        Since 2010, APEC economies are aware of and more devoted to food security actions. After the Roadmap (2013 version) was tabled by PPFS, reducing food losses has been repeatedly underscored as one of primary tasks in relevant APEC fora and Leaders' meetings.

        In 2013, Taiwan proposed an initiative to address post-harvest losses in different stages of the food supply chain, including harvesting; handling and storage; processing and packaging; distributing and marketing, and; consumption, in the APEC region by strengthening public-private partnership. It aims to 1) identify key issues on reducing post-harvest losses and costs along the food supply chains for improving food safety and quality in the APEC region; 2) seek best practices in private and public sectors on reducing post-harvest losses and costs, and enhance the role of public-private partnership (PPP) to reinforce policy coordination among APEC economies, and; 3) identify practical solutions to enhance capacity-building on reducing food losses by establishing toolkits and a dataset on related practices, and to develop a consolidated methodology of APEC food losses assessment.

        For 2014, the initiative is focused on fruit and vegetable and related methodologies, best practices, toolkit and dataset will be developed. Furthermore, a website for disseminating project outputs and best practices for farmers to enter foreign markets and for private sectors to offer postharvest services will be established. On 15th September, Taiwan will host a seminar on food loss reduction in vegetable and fruit sectors in Beijing before the Food Security Ministerial Meeting. One example Taiwan will present in the seminar is the cold chain development in mango production. Taiwan has long experience in developing cold chains for mango growers to improve postharvest protocols for export market which Taiwan used to have great difficulty to access, due to mango is such delicate and chillingsensitive tropical fruit that easily be damaged during the process of harvesting, packaging, and distributing to foreign markets and consumers. After introducing and integrating the postharvest cold chain systems in 2005, the export value and prices of Taiwanese mango has increased dramatically in Japanese market. In 2012, the price of Taiwanese mango is more than double of its competitors. Furthermore, in local market, mango price also increased from 1 USD/Kg in 2003 to 2 US$/Kg8, that benefit mango growers and industry substantially.

        In 2015, the program will expand its work to fishery and livestock products and to food consumption ends in 2016. It is believed that this initiative will assist APEC economies to improve food chain management, increase food availability, and benefit a wide range of stockholders along food chains, including small farmers, local communities, enterprises and consumers by enhancing public private partnership.


1 APEC, 2014/SOM3/027anx3.
2 APEC, 2014/SOM3/027anx2.
3 APEC, 2014/SOM3/027anx1.1.
4 APEC, 2014/SOM3/027anx4.
5 APEC, 2014/SOM3/027anx6.
6 FAO, 2014, Global Initiative on Food Loss and Waste Reduction,
7 UNIDO, 2012.Post Harvest Losses (PHL) of Main Commodities in ASEAN Countries, 17 July, Ja karta,
8 COA, Agricultural Trade Statistics,

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