Losses at the farm level can be attributed to poor harvest practices and poor handling. Generally, any loss of produce translates to lost production resources, mainly land, water, energy and inputs.
It is also lost income for the various actors in the supply chain. This could feed 1.
Why does one-third of all food produced never reach the market?
These figures are alarming. However production resources — land, water, energy and so on — are limited and inelastic.
Instead of producing more, we could increase the amount of food available by ensuring that most of the food produced for human consumption reaches the end user. Quantitative and qualitative losses negatively impact on all aspects of food security — access, availability, utilisation and stability.
Losses occur at all stages between production at the farm level through to consumption. There are unique challenges at each stage depending on specific commodities and value chains as well as context. The causes are complex and interrelated; actions or lack of action at one stage of the supply chain could be the driver of post-harvest loss at a different stage. Qualitative and quantitative losses are driven by poor or wrong harvest practices and poor handling. This includes poor storage or packaging, mode of transport, processing practices, lack or poor access to markets and poor coordination among the actors in the supply chains.
There are other broader factors such as poor infrastructure and lack of policies that have a direct impact on post-harvest issues. Over the last several years of working with what I consider the top soybean producers in Lebanon County I have learned the importance of timely harvest of soybeans. This week I noticed late group 2 beans were approaching harvest moisture. Some recent work at Iowa State showed a 3. So dry down is quick.
I still remember John Yocum referring to the fact that after grain first reach harvestable moisture, dry matter losses occur simply by the alternating day night and heavy dew. It is important to consider the variety since some varieties will have slight differences in the pod integrity and not tend to split as the heavy dew at night can speed up this process.
Solvable Problem: Reducing Post-harvest Loss
There are also impacts of erect varieties that might tend to dry quickly and delays in harvest may impact those versus varieties that that tend to lay over and nestle protecting large fluctuations in dry down. Figure 1 shows the study at Landisville Research Station where the same variety was planted on 5 different dates. When the early planting was ready to be harvested, the soybeans on the left planted two weeks earlier than the beans on the right could be harvested two weeks before later plantings Figure 1.
If harvest was delayed as little as two weeks until the rest of the planting dates matured, a significant amount of soybeans would be lost to shattering. Combines can be operated to reduce losses without affecting the harvesting rate. Food loss statistics varied by region, with more than 20 percent loss in central and southern Asia, roughly 15 percent in northern America and Europe, and slightly over 5 percent in Australia and New Zealand.
Losing 14 percent of the food supply between harvest and the store is obviously bad, but thankfully there is a new generation of startups looking to tackle the issue. TeleSense uses IoT sensors to monitor the temperature and humidity of grain as it is stored and shipped.
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Varcode uses special temperature sensor barcode stickers and blockchain to continuously monitor and record the temperatures of food to ensure they remain at the proper temperature.