Post-Harvest Losses in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities 

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April 2013, #3

Post-Harvest Losses in Latin America and the Caribbean: Challenges and Opportunities

On February 19th, the US Department of State convened a high level roundtable that addressed the role of post-harvest loss management achieving in food security.
Washington. The discussion was opened by Assistant Secretary for Bureau of Economic and Business Affairs Jose Fernandez. He emphasized the importance of reducing the estimated 30-40% of all food produced that is lost or wasted between the farm and the table.

IICA’s Dr. James French, Director of Technical Cooperation, presented the results of a survey carried out among the IICA Offices and the activities of the Institute in this area. He indentified technological innovation as one of the areas of focus to prevent postharvest losses and improve management, particularly among small holder farmers. French also discussed the Project Red SICTA that promotes technological innovations and good practices to minimize post-harvest losses in maize and beans. According to the data, these losses might range from 10% in El Salvador to 50% in Nicaragua and Guatemala.

The participants indicated that many countries lack the incentives for retailers to invest in equipment and storage facilities, and stores needed to reduce food loss and broaden market opportunities. Also, government policies and regulations in some countries make it difficult for investments to be profitable. Thus in addition to developing new technologies and techniques it is critical that governments adopt policies that encourage greater investment in post-harvest storage and distribution network infrastructures including cold chain and low cost technologies.

The US government is taking a comprehensive approach to helping countries solve the problem of post-harvest food loss. This includes, the Obama Administration’s Feed the Future initiative which promotes a series of programs to reduce these losses. In LAC, Feed the Future focuses on Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.

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